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State officials ‘embezzled’ children’s fund

Apr 05. 2018
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By THE NATION

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AN INTERNAL probe has found that at least three state officials were suspiciously among recipients of money from the Education Ministry’s fund for underprivileged children.

Two of them are officials under other government agencies, while one is a C8-level education official based in the Northeast.

The Education Fund for Life Development, which was established with a budget of Bt600 million, has reportedly lost about Bt118 million to corruption. 

The link between the three officials and Rojana Sintee – who has confessed to embezzling money from the fund – remains unclear. Rojana, also a C8-level official at the time the scandal broke, has already been dismissed from service. 

“I talked to Rojana last week. Her information, so far, has not matched what we have found,” said Athapol Truektrong, the Education Ministry’s inspector-general who is heading the ministry’s probe into the alleged corruption. He said Rojana claimed she had acted alone and started embezzling funds in 2012.

“But our ongoing probe has found that embezzlement began in 2004,” Athapol said. 

Rojana also failed to turn up to provide testimony directly to Athapol’s committee yesterday. 

“We won’t summon her again. Even without her testimony we can conduct the probe,” he said. He added that the probe was more than 90 per cent complete. 

Athapol said many retired officials had answered his committee’s summons and most had testified. 

“We asked them how they disbursed the funds and most said they just approved disbursements based on documents prepared by relevant teams. So, at this point, we have yet to determine whether they had colluded with Rojana,” he said. 

An informed source said one of the summoned officials had been involved in another corruption case. 

“This retiree is facing a separate probe for an alleged grave disciplinary offence, as he is believed to have stolen about Bt4.8 million from the state budget. He returned the money after his action was exposed,” the source said. 

The same source said stock trading documents were found in Rojana’s room, raising speculations that she might have funnelled some money into stocks. 

Meanwhile, the Bangkok education committee yesterday failed to convene a meeting due to lack of quorum.

As a result, the widely speculated dismissal of Samsenwittayalai School’s director, Wiroj Samruan, did not take place. 

A probe has already concluded that Wiroj committed a grave disciplinary offence by receiving Bt400,000 in tea money from a parent in exchange for offering a seat at his school for the parent’s child. The conclusion means Wiroj will be dismissed from service, with or without a pension. 

The dismissal must come from a resolution approved by the Bangkok education committee that failed to meet yesterday.

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