CityNews – Over 67 million baht believed to have been siphoned from the Department of Social Development and Welfare’s public funds in aid of helping ethnic people in Chiang Mai by corrupt officials.
On March 22nd, Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) accompanied by Office of the Auditor General of Thailand (OAG) investigated the public funds of Chiang Mai Highland People Development Centre, Department of Social Development and Welfare after a financial anomaly was reported.
Pol General Jarumporn Suramanee of PACC revealed that an investigation began after the Chiang Mai Highland People Development Centre received an vast increase to its yearly budget, from 3 million baht in 2016 to 67 million baht in 2017.
According to reports, 67,917,000 baht was distributed among 14 districts in 2017. The withdrawal figures are as follows:
1. Fang (8.5 million baht)
2. Phrao (9.4 million baht)
3. Wiang Haeng (2.3 million baht)
4. Chiang Dao (6.1 million baht)
5. Galyani Vadhana (2.8 million baht)
6. Mae Ai (5.1 million baht)
7. Mae Taeng (5 million baht)
8. Mae Wang (3.7 million baht)
9. Chom Thong (11.2 million baht)
10. Mae Rim (2.8 Chai million baht)
11. Chai Prakan (1.9 million baht)
12. Samoeng (2.5 million baht)
13. Omkoi (3.5 million baht)
14. Mae Chaem (2.3 million baht)
Authorities questioned 26 people in Kued Chnag, Mae Taeng after their names were found of a list of fund recipients. Out of the 26 people, all five Thai nationals and 15 of the 31 ethnic minorities stated they never had received funds from the Chiang Mai Highland People Development Centre or any other affiliate.
The Kued Chang sub-district headman also told authorities that his villagers had never received the funds. Authorities discovered a copy of his ID that was used without his consent, with fraudulent signatures. Further false information was identified including fraudulent registration of Thai and ethnic people.
Officials also questions the head district officer of Chiang Dao, Mae Taeng and Mae Rim who all denied claiming funds, despite appearing on documents that claim they have received funds totaling 6.1 million baht, 5 million baht and 2.8 million baht respectively.
On the same day, authorities also investigated the Coordination Centre in San Kamphaeng Cooperative Village Royal Project Development in Mae On which received a staggering 23,747,000 baht budget in 2017 for one tambon, Sa Ha Khon, with a population of just 3,321 people.
After examining documents, the authorities found fraudulent signatures, defaced paper and documents with information that had been deleted and rewritten. They also discovered that most of the funds were withdrawn without a legitimate copy of the claimant’s ID. Many outdated documents were used and some names of the recipients were found not to be current residents in Thailand.
An investigation is ongoing. All heads of the affected areas were transferred to the Department of Social Development and Welfare under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to investigate their possible involvement.