THE ANTI-MONEY Laundering Office (AMLO) has seized 41 assets worth Bt88 million from three former senior officials at the Social Development and Human Security Ministry and some 10 alleged accomplices as part of the probe into the misappropriation of allowances and related irregularities at protection centres for the destitute.
AMLO acting secretary-general, Pol Maj-General Romsit Viriyasan, on Wednesday said the agency’s in-depth investigation had found that the former permanent secretary for Social Development and Human Security, Puttipat Lertchaowasit, and his former deputy Narong Kongkham, as well as the former inspector-general Theerapong Srisukhon were allegedly involved in corruption.
Corrupt officials forged documents to access the ministry’s budget allocated to various centres to distribute to entitled low-income earners. The probe found that a part of such ill-gotten money was sent back to the ministry’s executives who then had others launder them for the purchase of 41 assets such as land, condominium units and luxurious cars, he said.
The AMLO transaction committee on Tuesday resolved to temporarily seize the assets of Puttipat, Narong and Theerapong as well as 10 alleged accomplices to take legal action as per the Anti-Money Laundering Act, Romsit said.
He also warned that any state official involved in graft would face asset seizure while those taking such ill-gotten money or assets would be liable to face charges of money-laundering, which is punishable with a maximum 10-year imprisonment for every asset transferred. The AMLO generally seizes assets temporarily during investigation for inspection, allowing suspects or their associates to provide explanations about the origins of the asset within a given period of time.
After a ruling by the court in the cases, it proceeded with a request for the state to appropriate the assets. In the cases of assets that are expensive to maintain, perishable, or depreciating that pose a potential burden to the state, AMLO may opt to hold auctions to dispose them of.