Farm permanent secretary transferred over longan scandal

Permanent secretary for agriculture and cooperatives Chawalit Chukhachorn has been transferred to an inactive post over his role in 2004’s longan mortgage scandal.

The transfer to a special inspector-general’s post at the PM’s Office took effect Tuesday after the weekly cabinet meeting today, Thai media reported.

The cabinet has not appointed anyone to succeed Mr Chawalit at the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry’s permanent secretary’s office.

Earlier, the National Anti-Corruption Commission found Mr Chawalit guilty of involvement in alleged irregularities in the longan mortgage scheme in 2004.

The Office of the Attorney-General and the NACC later set up a joint panel to consider his case after a civil service committee at the ministry found him not guilty of disciplinary violations over the longan scandal.

Mr Chawalit is attending an agricultural expo in Italy.

The mortgage scheme, initiated in 2004 by then agriculture minister Somsak Thepsuthin, was intended to replace the fraud-ridden longan price-subsidy programme, which had failed to solve longan price problems caused by rampant corruption among agricultural officers and traders.

Under the programme, the state-run Marketing Organisation for Farmers was assigned to purchase about 300,000 tonnes of fresh longan from farmers and send the fruit to Por Heng Intertrade for processing into dried longan. But vast amounts of the dried longan later went missing.