Connect with us

Phuket

Red tape mix-up stalls tsunami aid theft case

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

Red tape mix-up stalls tsunami aid theft case | Thaiger

PHUKET: Nine months after 2.05 million baht in tsunami aid money went missing from a strongbox at Phuket Provincial Hall, the investigation into the theft has apparently stalled temporarily due to poor communication between the police and the regional court now in charge of the case.

The Region 8 Prosecutor’s Office in Surat Thani says it approved a request by the Phuket City Police to resume collecting evidence in the case, but Pol Lt Col Sien Kaewthong told the Gazette he has not yet received written approval and cannot continue the investigation until he does.

The 2.05 million baht was first reported missing on February 15 by Metha Mekarat, at the time head of the Phuket Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (ODPM).

At first it appeared that the the funds, wrapped in paper bags and stored in a strongbox in a locked room under the supervision of the Phuket Provincial Financial Office (PPFO), had been stolen.

The initial police investigation found evidence that someone had sawed though one of the locked hasps on the strongbox and pried back its cover to remove 2.05 million of the 2.4 million baht it had contained.

Later, however, Vice-Governor Supachai Yuwaboon, head of an official civil service investigation into the disappearance, concluded that the money had been “lost” through “poor accounting” by the ODPM officers responsible for distributing it.

The case seemed to arrive at a turning point on April 22, when Phuket City Police arrested Apichart Nooprod, Chief of the Finance Division of the Phuket Provincial Financial Office (PPFO), on charges of conspiracy to steal state property.

K. Apichart was later released on his own recognizance, using his status in the civil service in lieu of a bail bond. He continues to work in his old position at the PPFO.

No details of the evidence against him were ever released to the press.

K. Apichart, from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, strongly maintained his innocence at the time of his arrest. He also alleged that he would not get a fair trial in the Phuket Provincial Court.

Apparently in agreement with this view, Special Public Prosecutor Bantoon Thongtan of the Phuket State Attorney’s Office at the end of July attached his opinion to the case file and forwarded it to Regional Director General of Prosecutions in Surat Thani, who is usually the one to decide whether such cases are sent to court or not.

K. Bantoon told the Gazette that Phuket City Police had filed a request to continue collecting evidence in the case, but that the decision to grant such approval now rests with the regional court.

Prasert Wattanasereekul, Special Public Prosecutor in the State Attorney Region 8 Office, told the Gazette that his office received the police request to investigate further more than a month ago and had granted its approval at the end of October.

“The Region 8 Prosecution Committee asked police to investigate further in order to find out whether it was Apichart Nooprod, or ODPM officials, who were responsible.

“The fact is that the ODPM officers put the money in paper bags before placing them in the PPFO strongbox, so we have no way of knowing how much money was actually in the strongbox,” he said.

For this reason, he said, it was too early to rule out poor “accounting practices” by ODPM officials.

“It could have been the result of dereliction of duty by ODPM officers for having failed to keep an accurate track of how much money the bags contained,” he said.

While the police are waiting for the official go-ahead from the State Attorney’s Office, the State Attorney’s office said it was waiting for the police to submit more evidence.

K. Prasert said that the Court was especially interested in learning the identities of six individuals whose fingerprints were found on the bags that had contained the funds.

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Philippines13 hours ago

ICC opens investigation into Philippines President Duterte

World13 hours ago

American general defends “clandestine” phone calls with China

Thailand13 hours ago

Countdown to October reopening; body of Koh Phi Phi resort manager found | Thailand News Today | September 16

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Visa14 hours ago

Hungarian woman arrested in Koh Samui for 10-year overstay

Thailand14 hours ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat reports Covid outbreak at prison

Guides14 hours ago

Most famous viewpoints in Phang Nga

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Blackpink15 hours ago

Blackpink’s Lisa causes sales frenzy for Buri Ram meatballs

Thailand16 hours ago

NACC ordered to disclose their findings regarding Deputy PM Prawit’s watch scandal

World16 hours ago

“Thai Taste Therapy” launched to promote Thai cuisine worldwide

Food16 hours ago

Food and drinks to stay away from in Thailand

Thailand16 hours ago

Ode to the Comments | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 19

Pattaya17 hours ago

Pattaya reopening likely to snub nightlife, favor other attractions

Thailand17 hours ago

Epidemiologists dispatched to Phuket to help curb the spread of Covid

Phuket17 hours ago

Phuket Vegetarian Festival gets “green light” to run from October 6 to 14

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

Thursday Covid Update: 13,897 new cases; provincial totals

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending