Elite city school 'took tea money'

Elite city school 'took tea money'

Ex-head defends staff transfers

The former director of Triam Udom Suksa School, already undergoing heavy public scrutiny, has revealed the prestigious school he had worked for had been probed for receiving tea money amounting to about 100 million baht a year in exchange for student places.

"I have kept quiet as I do not want to ruin the reputation of the school," Sophon Komon, former director of Triam Udom Suksa told the media at the Ministry of Education yesterday.

Mr Sophon has been facing fierce criticism recently as teachers and students have accused him of transferring teachers who did not toe his line to other posts two days before he retired. Triam Udom Suksa, a prestigious school known for having ace students, is now embroiled in controversy. During his press conference yesterday, Mr Sophon touched upon the controversial issue of under-the-table payments the school had accepted.

Mr Sophon revealed that a group of alumni and teachers had asked the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate allegations the school had been accepting tea money when he became director in 2018.

He said the acceptance of tea money was originally initiated under a special quota admission -- 300 seats annually during 2016-2018. He said the system had been put in place before he accepted the post.

"The special quota admissions should have been announced publicly. But they were not," he said.

He claimed the special quota admission allowed some people to make a lot of money. He also said the people involved had bought luxury cars with the kickback money they received from the quota admission system. The NACC, in investigating the people associated with the tea money, had found 24 luxury cars had been purchased, he said.

He added the NACC had already investigated him and cleared him of any wrongdoing. However, when he disrupted further special quota admissions, this angered the people who had profited from the scheme.

In response to his transfer of five staff members, Mr Sophon said he had done this because they were being accused of withdrawing money from the school's account without telling their superior.

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