More suspects sought in alleged Bt88m educational fund embezzlement case

national March 21, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

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Official’s claim of sole responsibility is ‘unconvincing’ given scale of corruption.



AUTHORITIES ARE following the money trail to determine if more people are involved in an alleged plot to embezzle Bt88 million from an educational fund over the past decade. 

The investigation is continuing as authorities suspect that high-ranking figures might be involved. 

Pol General Jarumporn Suramanee, a member of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), said yesterday C8 official Rojana Sintee’s claim that she acted alone in the alleged corruption was “unconvincing”. 

“We have already nudged the Anti-Money Laundering Office to examine the financial flows. We will find out if persons of higher ranks are involved in this corruption case,” he said. “It’s unlikely that just one official could carry out the alleged large-scale embezzlement.” 

The PACC is investigating alleged irregularities in the Educational Fund for Life Development. 

After the alleged irregularities were detected, Rojana confessed that she alone took about Bt88 million from the fund. 

The investigation found that educational institutes would submit the names of children they believed were eligible for financial help from the fund. Rojana was in charge of compiling information for her supervisor to approve disbursement of the money.

During the process, she allegedly included the bank accounts of her relatives or people she knew, and, following approval, the money was transferred to the bank accounts of her friends and relatives.

Alleged irregularities started from at least 2009. 

According to Jarumporn, Rojana said she got all the money returned to her as she told her friends and relatives that the money was for her direct-sales business. 

“In the 2017 fiscal year, we found 22 ineligible bank accounts that received money from the fund. All these bank accounts were already closed,” Jarumporn said. 

These bank accounts, he added, took Bt12.8 million from the Bt23.7 million approved in that fiscal year. 

Established in 1999, the Educational Fund for Life Development had a start-up budget of more than Bt600 million to boost educational opportunities among underprivileged children. 

The fund placed an emphasis on girls in the North as many of them were considered at risk of being lured into prostitution. 

The start-up funds came from the Government Lottery Office. 

Between 2009 and 2018, Rojana allegedly transferred about Bt88 million from the fund to bank accounts of people not qualified as fund recipients. The account owners were a combination of her relatives and other people she knew.

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