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5 More Province Being Investigated Over Embezzled Money Earmarked for the Poor

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Investigators of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission investigate alleged embezzlement of welfare funds. – By Supapong Chaolan

BANGKOK – Thailand’s Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is investigating whether officials in five additional provinces may have embezzled money earmarked for poverty relief in Thailand.

The PACC board on Thursday agreed to set up panels to investigate alleged embezzlement at the Protection for the Destitute Centres in Nong Khai, Bung Kan, Trat, Nan and Surat Thani, after preliminary investigations found grounds to take action.

Pol Gen Jarumporn Suramanee, a retired police officer on the PACC board, said investigators had found officials in the five provinces using fake signatures to pocket state funds earmarked for the poor.

The suspected embezzlers in the five provinces include five centre directors and 20 others, ranging from low-ranking officials to contracted staff and ordinary people, he said.

They could face several charges, including dereliction of duty, he added.

With the ongoing investigations in Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai, a total of seven welfare centres are now undergoing in-depth probes. But the list is expected to grow, as Pol Gen Jarumporn said investigators are poring over accounts in 21 more provinces.

The Office of the Auditor General will be called in to help the PACC analyse budget reimbursements in those provinces, he added.

The alleged “officials stealing from the poor” corruption was first exposed by a Maharasakam University student working as a trainee at the centre in Khon Kaen.

By King-Oua Laohong

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