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Senior Thai Official Sacked for Allegedly Stealing from the Poor Commits Suicide




PATHUM THANI – The Former permanent secretary for social development and human security Puttipat Lertchaowasit, who was being investigated over the embezzlement of funds for the poor, was found dead in Muang district on Friday morning.

Puttipat, 59, and Wassana Tapaopong, 49, were found in their second-floor bedroom at their two-storey house at 106/105, Chuanchuen Brookside housing estate, in tambon Bang Khu Wat.

They were believed to have taken drugs to end their own lives. Police found two glasses of wine beside the bed.

Police were informed of the discovery about 8.30am. When emergency services arrived, the woman who was close to Puttipat was unconscious but still alive. She was rushed to Pathum Thani Hospital.

Police said they did not find a special note or anything suspicious at the scene.

They collected the wine glasses for forensic examination and were looking for fingerprints in the house, which belonged to MissWassana.

Police quoted his unidentified driver as saying Puttipat normally visited the house on Fridays and weekends. He had been surprised when told to take Puttipat there on Wednesday.

The driver was also quoted as saying that Puttipat had told him on Wednesday he would visit Nakhon Ratchasima province.

Unable to contact Puttipat, the driver returned to the house on Friday morning. He had a house key and was the person who found Puttipat and the woman in the bedroom.

Miss Wassana remained unconscious and on a respirator at Pathum Thani Hospital on Friday afternoon.

Puttipat was the most senior government official facing serious disciplinary investigation over the large-scale embezzlement of government funds for the destitute nationwide. Some 95 officials are being investigated.

Probes into the embezzlement scandal mushroomed after students from Mahasarakham University complained they were ordered to forge signatures for the disbursement of funds when they worked as interns at a protection centre for the destitute in Khon Kaen province early this year.

Investigations have found that the registered destitute received either no aid or only partial assistance. Names of people ineligible for the assistance were also registered to obtain payments.

The serious disciplinary investigation against Puttipat was expected to be concluded by Saturday. The cabinet dismissed him from office in April.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office recently issued an order to freeze 88-million-baht worth of assets related to 12 suspects in the scandal including Putthipat and his aide.

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