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88 million baht seized from ex-officials of destitute fund

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The AMLO (Anti Money Laundering Office) has seized 41 assets worth 88 million baht from three former senior officials at the Social Development and Human Security Ministry and nine alleged accomplices as part of the probe into the misappropriation of allowances and related irregularities at protection centres for the destitute.

AMLO acting secretary-general, Pol Maj-General Romsit Viriyasan, yesterday said the agency’s in-depth investigation had found that the former permanent secretary for Social Development and Human Security, Puttipat Lertchaowasit, and his former deputy Narong Kongkham, as well as the former inspector-general Theerapong Srisukhon were allegedly involved in corruption.

Meanwhile, AMLO legal affairs director Witthaya Neetitham met yesterday with the Royal Thai Police’s Counter-Corruption Division (CCD) chief, Pol Maj-General Kamol Rienracha, to discuss filing complaints against 12 senior officials, including Narong, Theerapong, Puttipat and Puttipat’s female close aide who is also an ex-official.

Kamol later told reporters that the AMLO would officially file the complaint on June 19, as the CCD would first have to get the green light from the Central Investigation Bureau to take up this “complicated” case and set up an investigation team.

According to Romsit, corrupt officials forged documents to access the ministry’s budget allocated to various centres to distribute to entitled low-income earners. The probe found that a part of the ill-gotten money was sent back to the ministry’s executives who then had others launder them to purchase 41 assets, such as land, condominium units and luxury cars, he said.

Wittaya said the graft took place in fiscal year 2016-17. He said that 30 per cent (more than 80 million baht) of the embezzled money was delivered in cash to the executives, making it difficult to probe the case due to the lack of bank money transfer records. However, the AMLO had received good cooperation from former officials and those involved in the graft in providing useful information that implicated the senior officials and led to the asset seizure, he said.

The AMLO transaction committee on Tuesday resolved to temporarily seize the assets from Puttipat, Narong and Theerapong as well as nine alleged accomplices for 90 days pending investigation, Wittaya said. The accused had 30 days to provide explanations about the origins of the assets, he said.

Romsit warned that any state official involved in graft would face asset seizure while those taking ill-gotten money or assets would be liable to face charges of money-laundering, which is punishable with a maximum 10-years imprisonment for every asset transferred.

STORY: The Nation

- The Thaiger & The Nation

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Narathiwat: 40 pipe bombs seized at a checkpoint on busy highway

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Police in Narathiwat have uncovered 40 pipe bombs together with other potential bomb-making paraphernalia from a pickup truck at a checkpoint. The pick-up was travelling on the Sungai Kolok-Takbai highway in the southern province of Narathiwat.

Thai PBS are reporting that highway police set up a checkpoint on the main north-south highway.  Around midday, a gold-coloured Isuzu pick-up approached the checkpoint and was stopped for a routine search.

A suspect, 36 year old Sanusee Yatae, was arrested while another, identified by police as Abdul-arsi Sama, managed to elude police and remains at bay whilst police continue searching.

The police unfolded two quilts in the passengers’ cabin of the pick-up and found the 40 pipe bombs.  The explosives ordnance disposal unit was then called in to check out the bombs.
Besides the 40 pipe bombs, there were two radio transmitters, four torches, two boxes of radio circuitry, 36 boxes of timer circuits set for five minutes, one box of timer circuits set for ten minutes, two boxes of time circuits set for 30 minutes and one steel pipe bomb.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Thai PM features on front of Time magazine’s Asia edition

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Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is being featured on the cover of Time magazine’s Asia edition for the start of July, available on July 2.

The cover carries the headline: “Democrat.  Dictator. Which path will Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-o-cha choose?”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha appears at ease among the lavish trappings of politics. Thailand’s Prime Minister is never far from doting courtiers in Bangkok’s 1920s Government House, a neo-Gothic building stippled with classical nudes and one particularly plump jade Buddha.

The cover story is “Thailand’s Leader Promised to Restore Democracy.  Instead, He’s Tightening His Grip”. The article has been penned by Charlie Campbell, the Beijing correspondent for Time.

The analytical article is mostly about the current political situation in Thailand under the junta and remarks from Prayut explaining why the coup was necessary.

“These were not four years of empowerment, but it was the time to solve problems, overcome obstacles and build stability, security to move forward to the future.”

Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha at Government House in Bangkok on June 1.
Adam Ferguson for TIME

The PM is currently on a European trip to shore up support for his government’s Eastern Economic Corridor and to keep Europe discussing trade with the Kingdom.

Prayuth, meanwhile, insists that his dictatorship is reluctant and temporary. “I never imagined becoming Prime Minister in this way,” he says. “It was the hardest decision of my life.” So he definitely won’t stay in power past February? “That depends on the situation and the people,” he says with a shrug. “I have no control over this.” Millions of Thais feel the same way.

The article also compares the problems across south east asia’s fragile democracies and compares some of the successes of ‘dictatorial democracies’, like Thailand, with some of the west’s elected, but fragmented, governments.

You can read the rest of the Time article HERE.

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