Rojana Sinthi, a senior planning and policy analysis specialist, is now facing a probe after she admitted to unlawfully taking the sum from the Sema Phatthana Chiwit Fund, which is aimed at supporting education for girls from poor families, said Jarumporn Suramanee, a PACC commissioner.
Rojana is now facing charges for embezzlement, malfeasance, falsifying documents, falsely certifying documents and dereliction of duty, according to Gen Jarumporn.
The ministry previously lodged a complaint with Dusit Police Station in Bangkok seeking legal action against Rojana on those charges. Police subsequently forwarded the case to the PACC for further investigation.
The Education Ministry recently launched an internal probe and found irregular transfers of money and evidence of misconduct. The probe then dug deeper by tracking back into the money transfers involving the fund dating back to 2008.
Each year the fund receives a budget of between B10mn and B30mn.
The suspect admitted to siphoning the money off to 22 bank accounts she claimed belonged to her mother, siblings and other relatives. She then told the team of investigators that she later diverted the stolen money to her own accounts, said Gen Jarumporn.
Despite her confession, he said, investigators are not fully convinced that she acted alone.
Rojana served as an assistant to a secretary responsible for recording the minutes of meetings on the payment of scholarships to students.
The official gave her the chance to replace the names and bank account details of those who had received scholarships with the names of people she intended to use as part of her scheme, Gen Jarumporn said.
Some of the scholarship money was transferred to the students while the rest went directly to those accounts Rojana had organised, he said.
She allegedly told the owners of the bank accounts the money came from her direct sales business, he said.
The PACC’s sub-committee will focus on tracking suspicious financial transactions made from the fund to the 22 accounts and others linked to those accounts.
The probe being carried out by the PACC will look into any missing details regarding the siphoned money.
Investigators doubt all of the money siphoned from the fund had been channelled into those accounts, as some may have been sent elsewhere.
A preliminary ministry probe found that B166.3mn had been approved for scholarship money to be disbursed. However, only B77.5mn ever reached the students.
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