85% of aid for poor stolen, now exceeds B100m

85% of aid for poor stolen, now exceeds B100m

Officials question local people during the investigation into systemic corruption in the payment of financial assistance for the destitute in Don Sak district of Surat Thani province last month. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)
Officials question local people during the investigation into systemic corruption in the payment of financial assistance for the destitute in Don Sak district of Surat Thani province last month. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

Graft-busters investigating systemic embezzlement of funds from protection centres for the destitute report the total theft uncovered now exceeds 100 million baht and has been found in 49 provinces.

Lt Col Kornthip Daroj, secretary-general of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, said on Monday that from Feb 13 to March 18 investigators had to found 104 million baht allocated to help the poor in 49 provinces had been misappropriated, or 85% of the centres' budgets.

Corruption was reported in Amnat Charoen, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Bung Kan, Buri Ram, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chaiyaphum, Chanthaburi, Chumphon, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Lampang, Lamphun, Lop Buri, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Phanom, Nan, Narathiwat, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Phangnga, Phatthalung, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Ratchaburi, Roi Et, Sa Kaeo, Saraburi, Sakon Nakhon, Satun, Si Sa Ket, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Surin, Tak, Trang, Trat, Yala, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani and Yasothon.

Fraud came in various forms, Lt Col Kornthip said. There were aid applications with completely fake documents, applications with both genuine and fake documents and aid applications for people who did not deserve the aid.

The destitute whose names were claimed as recipients either received no money or only partial assistance. In some cases, officials who misappropriated the aid told the destitute to lie to investigators that they had received what was due them.

The investigation is continuing.

The first case of embezzlement came to light in January. It was exposed by a group of Maha Sarakham University students, one of whom was later hit by a professor for blowing the whistle.

They were told to fill in forms and sign fake signatures on receipts for 2,000 villagers for nearly 7 million baht while they were working as interns at the Khon Kaen Protection for the Destitute Centre last year. The students claimed the centre chief and some senior officials ordered them to do it.

The money was intended for distribution to poor people, low-income earners and HIV/Aids patients in the province.


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