THE DEPARTMENT of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW) has suspended 65 senior officials nationwide from active duty to facilitate an investigation into alleged corruption involving hundreds of millions of baht of state welfare funds.
Earlier, Bt88 million worth of assets belonging to a former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security as well as 11 other senior officials were seized by the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation following criminal charges of corruption in public welfare funds.
To facilitate investigation into the alleged involvement of lower-level officials in these corruption cases, Napa Sethakorn, director-general of DSDW, said the chiefs of 65 local centres responsible for protection of poor and helpless people, have been moved out of their areas of responsibility. This was aimed at helping the investigators work without impediments in conjunction with counterparts from the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
The PACC has appointed a subcommittee to pursue alleged abuse of state welfare funds earmarked for poor and helpless people covering 59 of the 75 centres operated by the DSDW.
Napa said her agency had also taken disciplinary action against 14 centres after the PACC submitted the names of 96 officials who had allegedly committed wrongdoing when managing state welfare funds. On March 27 this year, the Cabinet passed a resolution to take disciplinary and other actions against state officials accused of embezzling the funds.
Wannop Somjitnakul, assistant secretary-general of the PACC, said preliminary findings on these corruption cases would be submitted today covering embezzlement from the fiscal 2017 budget.
Bt103 million budget
At this stage, the investigation covers alleged corruption of a budget totalling more than Bt103 million for centres responsible for helpless people and beggars and other units in charge of welfare and improvement of quality of life, centres for helping hilltribe people, and centres coordinating village cooperatives’ welfare projects.
These centres are located in multiple provinces, including Prachuab Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Si Saket, Nonthaburi, Chiang Mai, Saraburi, Surin, Songkhla, Phang Nga, Yala, Ubon Ratchatani, Lampang, Phayao, Phrae, Kam Phaeng Phet, Ratchaburi, Phitsanulok, Kanchanaburi, and Uthai Thani.
These provincial and remote centres have been tasked with helping the poor, homeless, and other helpless people in various areas throughout the country but their mission is unfortunately hit by abuse of funds.