KHON KAEN: The Public Sector AntiCorruption Commission (PACC) has found grounds to launch a full investigation into alleged falsification of receipts for reimbursement at a Khon Kaen welfare centre for low-income earners in the province.
Pol Lt Col Wannop Somchintanakul, the PACC’s assistant secretary-general, said yesterday an initial investigation has found there are grounds to the allegations and five people have been implicated and face an inquiry.
The scandal was exposed by a group of students at Maha Sarakham University who worked as interns at the welfare centre between August and November last year.
The students had lodged a complaint with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the National AntiCorruption Commission claiming they were told to fake receipts for 2,000 people, including patients with HIV/Aids, for the reimbursement of about 6.9 million baht.
The PACC, which is responsible for investigating graft involving government officials, has stepped in.
Pol Lt Col Wannop said the PACC’s subcommittee will proceed with a full investigation and determine their offences, adding that the agency will also launch an inquiry into disbursements at 37 other welfare centres across the country.
The disclosure was made after he and soldiers met a group of 90 people who were listed as recipients of a welfare programme supervised by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
None said they received payments from the welfare centre. They said they were not aware of the welfare programme and never received any from the centre.
Pol Lt Col Wannop said the students will be treated as witnesses following concerns they will face legal action over the scandal.
“We have to thank them for stepping forward with evidence. After being alerted the NCPO has assigned the PACC to investigate the other welfare centres,” he said.
One of the students, Panida Yospanya, yesterday gave a statement to the PACC office in Khon Kaen. Members of the media and outsiders were not permitted to cover the meeting.
According to the PACC’s assistant secretary-general, in the 2017 fiscal year, the Social Development and Welfare Department under the ministry received a budget of 493.7 million baht to help lowincome earners.
The welfare centre was allocated 6.85 million baht which was divided into three accounts: 2000 baht each for low-income earners without other sources of help, 2,000 baht each for HIV/Aids patients, and 3,000 baht each for low-income earners to start their own businesses.