Graftbusters target welfare centre chief, school director
published : 10 Mar 2018 at 16:29
writer: Pattanapong Sripiachai
NAKHON PHANOM: Anti-graft officials are preparing to act against a welfare centre chief implicated in the embezzlement of funds meant for the poor and a school director caught on camera lobbying local people to conceal the cheating.
The investigation in Nakhon Phanom is one of several being carried out by the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) into allegations that poor people nationwide were robbed by crooked civil servants.
Officials who examined the books of the Nakhon Phanom Protection Centre for the Destitute found that 564 residents in 12 districts were affected.
The centre received 1.7 million baht in taxpayers' money for welfare payments in fiscal 2017. Recipients were entitled to state welfare funds twice a year, with a maximum of 3,000 baht each time. However, many received between 1,000 and 2,000 baht a year. Some received only 200-300 baht and some got nothing at all.
However, investigators found that receipts from the centre showed all recipients received 5,000 baht per head per year.
Kriangkrai Suebsamphan, director of the anti-graft sub-division 5 under the PACC, said the investigation found irregularities in welfare money earmarked for poverty relief. Many residents insisted they had not received the amounts of money shown in the centre’s receipts.
The centre's director must be held responsible, Mr Kriangkrai said during a meeting with local residents on Saturday. The PACC would propose that the director be transferred outside the area pending legal action. The man would face both criminal and disciplinary action, he added.
Also expected to face legal action for supporting corruption is a school director caught on a video clip lobbying local residents to conceal the graft, said Mr Kriangkrai.
The PACC will ask the agency overseeing the school to take action against the school director, he said.
The clip showed the school director lobbying local people to lie and tell PACC officials that they had already received the money the centre claimed to have distributed.
The PACC began a series of investigations after Panida Yotpanya, 22, a social science student at Maha Sarakham University, blew the whistle on similar corrupt practices at a welfare centre in Khon Kaen.
Ms Panida and three friends who interned at the centre said its director was behind an order to fill in forms and sign receipts for nearly 7 million baht supposedly distributed to 2,000 residents, even if some never saw any money.
The investigation has now spread to 37 provinces.