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School Directors Jailed for 20 Year for Accepting “Tea Money” from Parents

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School Directors Jailed for 20 Year for Accepting "Tea Money" from Parents

A former director and deputy director of a School in Bangkok were both sentenced to 20 years in prison for accepting “Tea Money” payments from six parents in exchange for enrolling their children in Samsenwittayalai School.The school is one of 283 very selective schools in Thailand.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases announced the punishment order on Thursday. It also sentenced the pair to pay a forfeiture of 700,000 baht.

The former director, Mr. Viroj Samluan, and the former deputy, Mr. Phusit Prayoonanuthep, were convicted of malfeasance under Sections 147, 148, and 157 of the Criminal Code, as well as bribery under the Organic Act on Supplementing the Constitution Relating to the Prevention and Suppression of Corruption, BE 2542 (1999).

In exchange for their son’s enrollment, Viroj got 400,000 baht from a parent. According to an earlier revelation, he also had ties to other bribery instances valued up to 8 million baht.

Directors abused their authority

According to the court warrants, Viroj and Phusit, as well as a teacher named Prajern Chotphongsakul, received the Tea Money bribles between January and June of 2017. The court ruled that they abused their authority by ordering the school’s financial officers to enter fraudulent information on the school receipts.

The charges against Mr Prajern were dismissed due to a lack of evidence, according to the warrants. Mr. Viroj and Mr. Phusit alleged in court that the cash were turned over to the Student Recruitment Network Committee, which Phusit had already established.

The investigation revealed that the committee’s operations violated the Office of the Basic Education Commission’s resource recruiting policies, as well as the Treasury Regulations for Disbursing Money, BE 2551 (2008). According to the warrant, they were both found to have embezzled school donations.

The investigation revealed that no receipts were produced for the alleged donations, and the funds were kept in a safe in Phusit’s office rather than the school’s main safe.

According to the warrants, only 30,000 baht in funds can be legally maintained at the school and must be transferred to the school’s bank account within three days. Mr. Viroj attempted to produce retroactive invoices to conceal the wrongdoing.

Both former school directors are being held in the Bangkok Remand Prison pending an appeal.

Tea Money in Thailand

In Thailand, “tea money” refers to the practice of making minor monetary payments or bribes to low-level authorities in order to expedite regular services. It is ingrained in the country’s bureaucracy as a result of civil servants’ low pay rates.

While technically illegal, tea money is regarded as a practical technique to “grease the wheels” and get things done quickly. The fees are often small, ranging from a few dollars to several hundred dollars, depending on the service requested.

Critics believe that the system encourages corruption, while supporters see it as a realistic need in light of low government salary.

Efforts to reduce tea money through increased salaries and penalties have had limited success. The technique is still common, especially for duties such as having permits, licenses, or approvals handled quickly.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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