The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has dissolved a newly established intelligence team after discovering five of its officers allegedly took a total of 9.5 million baht after a raid on the former home of the consul-general of the Republic of Nauru in Sathon district on Dec 22.
Pol Maj Suriya Singhakamol, acting DSI director, said on Thursday that the order is effective immediately.
The residence was raided by a team of officers from the DSI and Patrol and Special Operation Division, better known as 191 police, after the DSI received a request from the Vice Consul-General of Nauru on Dec 9, saying suspicious individuals had been using the property, according to a DSI statement.
The search led to the seizure of 2.5 million baht and the arrest of a Chinese maid, while news later broke that there was an inconsistency with the amount of money that was reportedly seized.
The search team is now under investigation over a missing 5.5 million baht it found at the house and another 4 million in bribes in exchange for the release of 11 Chinese nationals found at the site, including the one with an arrest warrant, Pol Maj Suriya said.
The team consisted of five DSI officials -- including a secretary of former DSI chief Traiyarit Temahiwong -- under an intelligence team created last year, nine policemen of the 191 unit, a military police officer and a Chinese-born interpreter, he said. All are accused of being involved in extortion and bribery.
Pol Maj Suriya said he instructed a police disciplinary panel probing the five officers to speed up their work for the sake of the organisation's reputation.
The five officials have been suspended, while Mr Traiyarit was abruptly transferred on Wednesday to the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) to serve as acting director, he said.
"This case is a major lesson learned by the DSI and all of our staff," said Pol Maj Suriya.
In case the disciplinary panel finds more evidence of more officials involved, they will all be punished, he said.
"Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin has stressed the need for the DSI to fully cooperate with all agencies looking into the alleged embezzlement case and get the internal investigation done as soon as possible," he said.
All of the 16 suspects allegedly involved in the embezzlement case have denied any wrongdoing and have been released on bail.