Hospitals return 6 million baht of tainted money donated by whistleblower Chuwit
Siriraj Hospital has decided to return a donation of 3 million baht to high-profile whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit following suspicion that the money may have come from a questionable source.
Prof Apichat Asavamongkolkul, dean of Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, told a press conference at the hospital on Friday that Chuwit had handed him a cheque for 3 million baht and the hospital had issued a receipt that could be used for a tax deduction.
“Later I learned that the money may have been linked to an illegal business. The Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital has not been idle about this. We will return the money to Chuwit as soon as possible,” the dean said.
Chuwit said on Friday that Siriraj and Thammasat University hospitals had contacted him about the return of donations. “I will give the money to the police. Are you more satisfied now?” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Chuwit reportedly donated 3 million baht to Thammasat University Hospital on February 15. He made a donation of the same amount to Siriraj Hospital on Valentine’s Day.
Earlier, Chuwit admitted that he had obtained 6 million baht from fugitive Pol Lt-Colonel Wasawat Mukurasakul, aka “Inspector Sua”, who is accused of involvement in a multi-billion-baht online-gambling network.
Chuwit said a retired police officer gave him the money on the fugitive’s behalf in exchange for his silence over his disclosures on police corruption and illegal gambling.
The whistleblower claimed that he initially rejected the money but the retired officer insisted, so he decided to accept it and donated it to the two hospitals.
However, celebrity lawyer Sittra Biabungkerd, whose hint earlier this week led to Chuwit’s admission, claimed on Thursday that the whistleblower in fact had received 50 million baht in digital currency from Inspector Sua.
At the press conference at Siriraj Hospital, Dr Apichat was asked if the hospital had any rules to prevent the issuance of receipts for donations from illegal businesses. He responded that there were no rules regarding donations to the hospital.
“We rely on the goodwill of donors who want to help Siriraj Hospital, which is a national medical institution that treats patients from all parts of Thailand. The donations are for funding studies, research and construction of buildings, straightforwardly in line with the donors’ intention,” Dr Apichat said.
“We focus on the intention of donors, not their backgrounds. We suppose that the money belongs to them. But in Chuwit’s case, after we learned that the money does not belong to him, we need to return it so that Chuwit can make further moves in line with the law,” he said.