Fund probe finds no colluders
Will be wrapped up 'by April at the latest'
The probe into an embezzlement scandal involving the Sema Phatthana Chiwit Fund will be concluded by Songkran or the end of April at the latest, Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said Wednesday.
He said the ministry will ensure wrongdoers face justice and receive appropriate punishments but added that Rojana Sinthi, the only known suspect in the case at present, did not provide any leads to give up any conspirators.
Meanwhile, about 50 education officials -- both active and retired -- will be asked to give statements to a fact-finding panel looking into an embezzlement scandal involving almost 120 million baht, said Atthapol Truektrong.
The education inspector was speaking in his capacity as chairman of the ministry's fact-finding panel.
Those on the list include former education permanent secretaries and their deputies, he said.
According to Mr Atthapol, the move is needed because the panel wants to gather all of the facts as it expands its investigation into the scandal involving the Sema Phatthana Chiwit Fund.
He insisted none of them are, at this stage, accused of being involved in alleged irregularities in the management of the fund, which was designed to support the education of girls from poor families.
"This week we'll send out letters to all of the officials who were involved since 2007. About 50 are needed to give information and verify documents," he said.
He added that the committee will next week pay random visits to schools and colleges that received financial support from the education fund to get first-hand information about the funded projects.
Early this week, Ms Rojana, a senior planning and policy analysis specialist attached to the ministry, was sacked after she reportedly admitted to having a hand in stealing 88 million baht from the fund and then transferring the money to 22 bank accounts of relatives and friends over the last decade.
The ministry reported that a further 30 million baht was missing from the fund, bringing the damage to almost 120 million baht. Each year the Sema Phatthana Chiwit Fund receives a budget of between 10 million and 30 million baht.
On speculation that Ms Rojana may have had accomplices, Mr Atthapol said the the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) would investigate this to determine if she had help.
He said the panel found there were no details about the implementation of the projects under the Sema Phatthana Chiwit Fund in any meeting reports.
"There were records of the disbursements in the reports but nothing concerning the projects in terms of their efficiency or effectiveness," he said.
In Kanchanaburi, education official Anan Kallapa said the office plans to lodge a complaint with the police against a privately run school for allegedly falsifying documents to claim subsidies.
He said an initial probe showed that of 24 pupils listed as beneficiaries, six were under two years of age and 18 others were not enrolled at the school.
Rather, they were under the care of child development centres run by local administrative bodies in Tha Muang district, he added.