Hat Yai school officials charged in 2 million baht corruption scandal

Picture courtesy of MGR Online

School executives in Hat Yai, Songkhla, are entangled in corruption and forgery charges related to school lunch projects, scholarship funds, and the procurement of educational supplies, causing over 2 million baht (US$54,300) in losses.

Police Major General Charoonkiat Pankaew, Deputy Commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), disclosed yesterday that the CIB, along with the Anti-Corruption Division and Crime Suppression Division (CSD), carried out an inspection at Saman Khun Wittayathan School following complaints from teachers who suspected corruption.

Police have charged the school director, 56 year old Phiphat Senapitakul, 55 year old Ubon Sukanan, the deputy school director, 64 year old Anchalee Puangsuvarn, and the budget management head, 65 year old Thiranan Pathano, with embezzlement and document forgery.

Police confiscated various school budget documents, revealing irregularities, particularly in the student lunch project, where 25% of the funds were unaccounted for. Additionally, there were allegations of corruption in the procurement and distribution of school supplies and books. Students reportedly paid for new books but received used ones instead.

The school, which has approximately 1,700 students, faced an annual misappropriation of educational equipment funds estimated at 1.2 million baht (US$32,600), while the lunch budget misappropriation was around 900,000 baht (US$24,500) per year, said Pol. Maj. Gen. Charoonkiat.

“More than 100 witnesses, including parents, students, teachers, and state officials, were questioned.”

Despite the charges, all four suspects have denied any wrongdoing. They had been previously dismissed from the school’s administration but were reinstated after negotiations.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Charoonkiat urged the Education Ministry to strengthen inspections to ensure transparency in school management nationwide.

CSD Deputy Chief Police Colonel Anek Taosuparb revealed that some parents were coerced into signing documents indicating they received money, which they had not.

The investigation also uncovered that the state allocated a budget of 22 baht (US$0.6) per student for school lunches, but police findings indicated that 5 baht per student was syphoned off, resulting in substandard meals being provided, reported Bangkok Post.

The police believe the corruption had been ongoing for years, impacting the quality of education and the welfare of students at the school.

Crime NewsThailand News

Bright Choomanee

With a degree in English from Srinakharinwirot University, Bright specializes in writing engaging content. Her interests vary greatly, including lifestyle, travel, and news. She enjoys watching series with her orange cat, Garfield, in her free time.

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