Bangkok school directors get 20-year sentences for bribery

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in Thailand handed down 20-year prison sentences to the former director and the former deputy director of Samsenwittayalai School.

The two were found guilty of accepting bribes from parents, colloquially termed “tea money,” to secure their children’s admission to the school in 2017. Additionally, the court ordered the pair to pay a forfeiture of 700,000 baht.

Viroj Samluan and Phusit Prayoonanuthep were charged under the Criminal Code’s Sections 147, 148 and 157 for malfeasance and the Organic Act on Supplementing the Constitution Relating to the Prevention and Suppression of Corruption (1999) for bribery. Viroj was specifically charged with accepting 400,000 baht from a parent to ensure their child’s enrolment and was linked to other bribery cases summing up to 8 million baht.

According to court warrants, Viroj and Phusit, alongside a teacher named Prajern Chotphongsakul, received these bribes between January and June 2017. They manipulated their influence by coercing the school’s financial officers to falsify the school receipts. However, charges against Prajern were later dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

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In their defence, the defendants claimed that the money was handed to the Student Recruitment Network Committee, established earlier by Phusit. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the committee’s operations contradicted the Office of the Basic Education Commission’s resource recruitment measures and the Regulations for Disbursing Money from the Treasury (2008).

Furthermore, both were accused of embezzling school donations, as stated in the warrant. It was found that no receipts were issued for the alleged donations, instead, the money was kept in a safe in Phusit’s office, not in the school’s central safe.

Legally, only 30,000 baht can be kept at the school and deposited into the school’s bank account within three days, according to the warrants. The court asserted that Viroj’s attempt to issue retroactive receipts was an effort to cover up the crime, reported Bangkok Post.

Viroj and Phusit are currently held at the Bangkok Remand Prison, awaiting an appeal.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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