Education Ministry lodges complaint against C8 official and 22 individuals for alleged embezzlement of student fund

A complaint was lodged with Dusit district police by education permanent-secretary Karun Sakulpradit against a C-8 official, and 22 other people for allegedly embezzling more than 88 million baht from a fund for poor students for the past 10 years.

Mr Karun told the media after lodging police complaints on Tuesday (March 13) that five officials were implicated in the embezzlement of the Sema Pattanacheewit fund for poor students. However, only the C-8 official had already confessed to offences.

Mr Karun said he believed the 22 individuals who were relatives of education officials were fully aware that the money transferred into their bank accounts for the past ten years were ill-gotten gains.

As for the other four officials, a fact-finding committee would be set up to investigate the alleged corruption, he said, adding that the legal affairs office of the ministry had been instructed to consider the disciplinary action against all officials involved.

Meanwhile, the investigative inspector of Dusit district police station said that he could not say for sure now that the 22 people whose names appeared in the bank accounts in which money were wired in by the allegedly corrupt officials were involved with the alleged corruption or not.

Alleged embezzlement concerning the Sema Pattanacheewit Fund was only exposed last week when irregularities were discovered regarding the disbursement of 12 million baht from the fund.

Internal auditing at the office of the education permanent secretary uncovered something unusual with the Office of Educational Promotion breaching the regulation requiring fund recipients to open bank accounts under the name of Sema Pattanacheewit.

Instead bank accounts were opened under the name of educational institutes and money were wired into those accounts. Also, names of bank accounts do not match with names of the actual recipients in cases involving a nursing college.

The discovery of the irregularities led to intensive investigation dating back about ten years by officials of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

It was discovered to their shock that the alleged plundering of the fund went back about ten years and more than 88 million baht had been stolen by corrupt officials allegedly in cahoot with their relatives.

The Sema Pattanacheewit Fund was established by the Chuan Leekpai administration in 1999 primarily for poor northern female students so that they could further vocational education to prevent from being lured into sex trade.

The fund is managed by a board chaired by the education permanent secretary. Recipients of the fund are divided into three groups: students of Rajaprachanugroh schools; Suksasongkroh schools and nursing colleges.

The sources of the fund came from state subsidies, donations, interests earned from the fund and a seed fund from the issuance of special lottery tickets.

Following the exposure of the corruption in the Sema Pattanacheewit fund management, Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin had ordered all educational institutes to consider helping students who were cheated of their allowances and to immediately file a complaint with the police if they came across any suspected corruption in their institutes.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)