Welfare embezzlement probe complicated, Amlo admits

Welfare embezzlement probe complicated, Amlo admits

Puttipat Lertchaowasit (above) apparently committed suicide last month while under investigation for massive embezzlement and money laundering of state welfare funds when he was permanent secretary of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. (File photo)
Puttipat Lertchaowasit (above) apparently committed suicide last month while under investigation for massive embezzlement and money laundering of state welfare funds when he was permanent secretary of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. (File photo)

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) claimed Thursday the ongoing probe into assets linked to alleged embezzlement of state funds by Puttipat Lertchaowasit, the late former permanent secretary for social development and human security, was complicated.

Speaking after a meeting of the police Counter-Corruption Division (CCD) and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on Thursday, Amlo department secretary, Witthaya Neetitham, said Amlo found that the money linked to alleged embezzlement committed by Puttipat had changed hands and turned -- from cash -- into some other types of assets, which makes it more difficult to track.

It is believed that all assets remain in the country as no evidence has been found to suggest movement abroad, he said.

At this stage, Amlo believes more than 19 people to be involved in the attempt to conceal the embezzled money. Amlo has lodged a complaint with police against two of these 19 suspects.

Mr Witthaya said one was Puttipat who was the most senior government official facing investigation over the embezzlement scandal in which 95 officials including his ex-deputy, Narong Kongkam, were implicated.

He was found dead at his home in Pathum Thani's Muang district on June 29 in what appeared to be a suicide. His common-law wife, Wassana Tapaopong, 49, was also found unconscious at the scene.

The other suspect facing a formal complaint in this investigation is Ms Wassana, said Mr Witthaya, adding that police aren't really convinced that Puttipat's death was a murder aimed at silencing him.

More complaints are expected to be lodged against the remaining suspects later, he said. Amlo has resolved to seize 41 items linked to Puttipat and 11 other suspects, he added.


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