The financial officer involved in internally transferring the funds to the Patong Police had transferred the money into the account of his own accountant instead, Gen Wisnu Prasatthong-Osoth explained at Provincial Police Region 8 headquarters, at the northern end of Phuket, last Thursday (Oct 22).
With Provincial Police Region 8 Commander Lt Gen Kitrath Phanphet standing beside him, Gen Wisnu explained that his office had received a formal complaint about Patong Police officers not being paid the legitimate allowances for performing extra work as a result of the pandemic.
He declined to name who filed the complaint, though he said the complaint was from a “lower-ranking officer”.
He also declined to identify how much money was involved in the “accidental” transfer.
However, Gen Wisnu did confirm that a total of B1.5 billion had been allocated to paying police throughout the country the allowances for performing extra work.
Gen Wisnu also explained that Patong was not the only police station that was under investigation for the extra allowance funds disappearing. Thung Song Provincial Police has also been investigated for officers not receiving the extra payments.
Col Khemmarin Hassiri, Assistant Spokesperson and Deputy Commander Police Region 8, later explained to The Phuket News that the investigation into the missing funds meant to be paid to Patong Police officers had concluded, and that money had now been paid to the officers due to receive the extra allowances.
"The investigation has finished,” he said. “In total, about a B1 million had been paid to officers at Patong Police Station for performing extra duties because of COVID-19.
“From our investigation, we found that four police officers had not been paid because a financial inspector and a financial administrative officer were at fault. The money was transferred to the account of the financial officer’s own accountant, who was to transfer it to each police officer. That was wrong.
"It was just a mistake in processing the money. This financial officer just did it the wrong way. This financial officer did not want to cheat, and has been warned to improve their behavior to make sure it won’t happen again. The financial officer must transfer money directly to each police officer’s own bank account.
"All four police officers [at Patong Police Station] have already been paid,” Col Khemmarin also confirmed.
Col Khemmarin declined to identify which financial inspector and financial officer were involved in the transfers.
Of note, Col Khemmarin is no stranger to investigating disappearing government funds. He was the police officer who blew the whistle on funds from Bangkok that had disappeared after it had been dedicated to the Thailand Tsunami Victims Identification (TTVI) unit set up at Baan Nam Khem in Takuapa, Phang Nga, in the wake of the devastating Asian Tsunami in 2004.
Also of note, Col Khemmarin was a police colonel at that time 16 years ago. Since then, his superiors have not advanced his rank. Today, he remains a police colonel.