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And then there were 25: welfare scandal swells

BANGKOK: Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin has revealed that 25 current and former high-ranking officials at the ministry were involved in “irregularities” in an embezzlement-hit welfare fund intended to assist poor students.

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By Bangkok Post

Thursday 10 May 2018, 09:11AM


Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education, briefed the media Wednesday on the latest news of the embezzlement scandal. Photo: Apichart Jinakul / Bangkok Po

Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education, briefed the media Wednesday on the latest news of the embezzlement scandal. Photo: Apichart Jinakul / Bangkok Po

He was speaking yesterday after chairing a meeting at the ministry’s steering committee tasked with tackling internal graft.

The key agenda was said to be wrapping up the probe into the embezzlement scandal involving the Sema Phatthana Chiwit Fund.

Dr Teerakiat said the implicated officials held ranks from C8 to C11.

They include former education official Rojana Sinthi (C8), who is at the centre of the scandal. Ms Rojana was accused of siphoning 88 million baht out of the fund and transferring it to 22 bank accounts owned by relatives and friends over the last decade.

She was dismissed after reportedly admitting her guilt. Ms Rojana now faces criminal charges of embezzlement, malfeasance, falsifying documents, falsely certifying documents, and dereliction of duty.

Another four people were found to have committed severe disciplinary breaches and malfeasance, the minister said, noting one of them worked with Ms Rojana in committing the offences.

The permanent secretary for education and his deputy were not involved in the case, Dr Teerakiat said.

He said the remaining 20 people were guilty of dereliction of duty but the severity of their offences varied. Another panel will be set up to examine their violations later, he noted.

He refused to reveal the names of the 25 officials, saying this would be disclosed by the permanent secretary within two days. The embezzlement scandal has caused B77 million in damages since 2005, the minister noted.

The Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is also investigating the case. Dr Teerakiat said it is now questioning suspects.

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Ministry inspector Attapon Truektrong, who chairs a panel investigating the case, said the 25 suspects include some officials who retired over six months ago. Civil lawsuits could be filed against them, he said.

Seven of the 25 are senior professionals who apparently committed disciplinary breaches, Mr Attapon noted.

Others are guilty of severe negligence of duty as they signed off on approving the withdrawal of money from the fund based on requests by Ms Rojana, who wired the money to individuals whose names were not on the list to those supposed to receive a scholarship, he said.

Some documents, such as receipts and replies from educational institutes, were also found to have been falsified to cover up for their wrongdoing, Mr Attapon said.

The offences can be divided into three broad categories, he said.

The first concerns those who failed to perform their duties in line with the civil traditions and protocols; the second involves those who committed malfeasance; and the third relates to those who gave false reports to their superiors.

 

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Kurt | 10 May 2018 - 11:07:35

And this are just current and former high ranking Ministerial Government Officials! 25 'only'.
Name and shame them, with photos in newspapers. At least let them loose face and become labeled.
How many more, spread all over Thailand? The 217 Officials, awaiting fate? No more?
Pity that under NCPO/Junta in 4 years governing the enormous Government corruption could continue.

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