Ministry suspects more officials involved in theft of money for disabled

arrest of Pisal Sukjaitham

Police search the backpack belonging to Pisal Sukjaitham after he was arrested in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai on Sunday. (Supplied)

The Social Development and Human Security Ministry is investigating how many officials were involved in the embezzlement of 13 million baht set aside for the disabled, a senior ministry official said.

Permanent secretary Patcharee Arayakul said an investigation had been launched, the Thai Rath newspaper reported on Monday.

The probe follows the arrest of Pisal Sukjaitham, a C-6 official, by police in Mai Sai district of Chiang Rai on Sunday. He is accused of stealing 13 million baht between June and August of the present fiscal year.

Ms Patcharee said the 41-year-old official had been temporarily suspended from the civil service to clear the way for the investigation. It was suspected even more money was channelled to him beyond the June-August period.

The suspect is one of the officials in charge of finance at the ministry’s Department of Empowerment of People with Disabilities who had an access to the ministry’s financial accounts. He allegedly used this access to transfer 13 million baht budgeted for disabled people affected by Covid-19 to his own accounts.

All his finances have been frozen, she said.

Department director-general Patcharee Arayakul told Thai Rath officials detected the problem after checking transactions on Sept 13 and filed a complaint with Phaya Thai police. The Anti-Corruption Division of the Royal Thai Police later took up the case

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct issued an arrest warrant on fraud charges for Mr Pisal on Friday. He allegedly tried to flee before he was apprehended on Sunday.

Mr Pisal denied the charges.

Police allege he was planning to cross the border to Myanmar when he was apprehended. He was taken to Bangkok for questioning.

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