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Two arrested over B1.6bn university embezzlement

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Two arrested over B1.6bn university embezzlement
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Following the arrest yesterday of two suspects for allegedly embezzling some 1.6 billion baht from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lat Krabang (KMITL), the institute said a committee had been working over the past week with a view to establishing the facts, gathering more evidence against the alleged wrongdoers and retrieving the lost money.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has now helped the police trace related money transactions involving more accomplices in the embezzlement.

Police believe many people were involved in the scam, while KMITL’s acting rector said he was not sure if any previous administrative executives were implicated. While acknowledging that the lost money had been held in reserve, hence its disappearance could affect future useful projects, Monai Krairiksh insisted the loss had not affected KMITL projects, or teaching and learning.

He said that the institute would cooperate with the police investigation, and that its committee had already gathered evidence and was ready to hand it over to the police upon request.

Police spokesman Pol Lt Gen Prawuth Thavornsiri told a press conference that two suspects – KMITL finance division head Ampon Noisamrit, 56, and the ex-manager of Bank of Ayudhya’s Big C Srinakarin branch, Songklod Sriprasong, 40 – had been apprehended to face charges of forgery and using fake KMITL documents, and colluding to embezzle the institute’s money over a two-year period.

Only Songklod, arrested in the On Nuj area, was presented at yesterday’s press conference because Ampon, whose salary is being withheld by KMITL pending the outcome of the investigation, was receiving medical treatment for diabetes at a Bang Na private hospital, he said.

“Police will extend these arrests to apprehend more accomplices, as the money was transferred to a third person’s bank account,” he said, adding that the matter was also being referred to the AMLO.

Gen Prawuth said yesterday’s arrests had stemmed from KMITL’s investigation on December 12 into the missing money and alleged document forgery, which led to a police complaint being filed on December 16 against Ampon and Songklod.

Suspicion first arose in October after Ampon reportedly withdrew 80mn baht from KMITL’s bank accounts in order to deposit the money into another account at the Bank of Ayudhya’s Big C Srinakarin branch, where Songklod then served as manager, for a higher interest rate, the spokesman explained.

The institute became suspicious of the strange cashier’s-cheque issuance and launched an investigation, during which it discovered that the recipient account belonged to another person, identified as Poonsak Boonsawat.

But by that time, the account was closed and the 80mn baht was gone.

The institute then checked other three accounts back until 2012 and found they were false accounts, which had been emptied of 510mn baht, 314mn baht and 759mn baht, respectively. So, the total loss stood at 1.663bn baht, including the 80mn baht withdrawn in October, the spokesman said.

Songklod reportedly admitted knowing Ampon for a decade as a customer, but denies any wrongdoing.

He claims that all transactions seemed to have proper documentation, and that Ampon’s senior official status at a well-known institute made him trust her and believe that nothing corrupt was going on, Prawuth said.

Songklod said he had left his job at the bank job two months ago after failing to pass his probation as manager, the spokesman added.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai government expects to open vaccine registration to foreigners by August

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

A Health Ministry spokesperson has confirmed that foreigners living in Thailand should be able to register for Covid-19 vaccination by August. Ratchada Thanadirek says the government is working on a dedicated registration platform for foreign nationals living in the Kingdom, which it’s hoped will be ready in 3 months’ time.

Meanwhile, Thai Visa News reports that vaccine registration for Thais has been extended to those aged between 18 and 59 years old, who can now sign up from May 31. Registration had initially been limited to Thai nationals over the age of 60, as well as those with underlying health conditions. However, the third wave of the virus means registration for younger Thais has been brought forward from July.

Thai nationals can register for vaccination through the Mor Prom platform or the Mor Prom Line account. They can also register at government hospitals. According to Ratchada, the vaccines that will be used in the government rollout will primarily be AstraZeneca, manufactured in-country by Siam Bioscience.

However, she points out that there are 3 other vaccines that have been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration. They are the Chinese-made Sinovac, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the vaccine from US manufacturer, Moderna. The latter is expected to be available for purchase at private hospitals, although there has been no confirmation of when supplies might arrive.

SOURCE: Thai Visa News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Some Covid-19 restrictions relaxed across Thailand, fewer “dark red” provinces

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/PR Thai Government

The Thai government has relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions across the country, while downgrading the risk level of a number of provinces. The number of provinces designated as “strictly controlled” areas, or “dark red” zones, has been reduced from 6 to 4. They are Bangkok and the central provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan.

So, what, if anything, has changed where you are? Below is a summary of the situation across the country, courtesy of TAT News.

The “red zone” or “maximum control” areas now consist of the following 17 provinces:

Central Thailand: Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi, and Samut Sakhon

Eastern Thailand: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, and Rayong

Northern Thailand: Tak

Southern Thailand: Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Ranong, Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Yala.

There are now 56 provinces designated as “orange” or “controlled areas”, up from 26. They are as follows:

Central Thailand: Ang Thong, Chai Nat, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Sing Buri, and Suphan Buri

Eastern Thailand: Chanthaburi, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo, and Trat

Northern Thailand: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Nakhon Sawan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, and Uttaradit

North-Eastern Thailand: Amnat Charoen, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and Yasothon

Southern Thailand: Chumphon, Krabi, Pattani, Phang Nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Satun, and Trang.

Restaurants across the country can now resume in-house dining, with various restrictions based on their risk status. In the dark red zones, dining in is permitted until 9pm, with take away service allowed until 11pm. In red zones, dining in has been extended to 11pm. In orange zones, dining-in hours can return to normal. Of note, however, is that the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in restaurants remains in force across the country.

All other disease prevention measures remain in place, including mandatory mask-wearing outside of the home and the closure of “high risk” venues such as nightclubs, bars, karaoke bars, and massage parlours. Department stores, shopping malls and community malls must close by 9pm and refrain from holding promotional activities.

In dark red zones, there is a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, with this number extended to 50 people in red and orange zones. In Phuket, an orange zone, officials have stipulated a ban on people visiting each other’s homes, with only those residing at a property permitted to be there.

In dark red and red provinces, convenience stores and markets can only open between 4am and 11pm, while they can return to normal operating hours in orange zones. In addition, people in dark red zones are urged to cancel interprovincial travel or to submit to strict health screening. Businesses in the private sector are asked to allow employees work from home if possible.

SOURCE: TAT News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths

Tim Newton

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Today the public health department has reported 3,394 new cases and 29 new Covid-related deaths. 1,498 of today’s cases come from Thailand’s prisons (more below). Taking the shameful inmate toll out of the equation and the trend is still steady with around 2,000 – 2,500 new cases each day over the past 3 weeks across Thailand.

Around the world the trends for new infections and deaths are starting to fall quite quickly.

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths | News by Thaiger

• Roll up, roll up your sleeves. But the Thai PM says… hold on! PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has poured cold water on walk-in vaccination centres for Covid vaccinations. In the past week the public health department has been rushing to set up private vaccination locations around the country to hasten the roll out of vaccines for the first public vaccine category next month.

PM Prayut told a cabinet meeting yesterday he didn’t prefer the idea of the walk-in centres (Central Lad Phrao was already to open as yesterday) because “people would turn up in droves causing chaos”. He was particularly worried about centre around Bangkok where there is a population of 8 million+

The PM has asked that the Mor Prom app is working properly with registrations preferred so the Government can monitor the demand and act accordingly. The government says they’re working on an English, and other languages, version of Mor Prom to open registration for non-Thais soon.

• The Department of Corrections reports that there are now 11,670 prisoners infected with Covid in 13 prisons across Thailand.

• A major Japanese medical association is calling on Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Games are set to start on July 23.

The appeal, made in a letter to Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and comes amid concerns that the health-care system in Asia’s second-largest economy cannot accommodate both the potential medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media while fighting yet another spike in coronavirus infections.

• The Chon Buri (including Pattaya) public health officials announced 39 new and confirmed cases of Covid and 1 more death today. According to The Pattaya News, “officials are asking for the public to remain working from home if possible and especially to avoid small social gatherings with people who are not members of your own household until the situation improves”.

As usual we will have an update of all the provincial totals this afternoon.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | FRB

 

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