Tsunami orphanage remains open while fraud probe stalls

PHUKET: The Barnhem Thai-Swedish Children’s Foundation home for tsunami orphans in Mai Khao will continue to operate while a provincial investigation into fraud claims has stalled, awaiting the return of the home’s founder Narin Dangtakote.

The provincial committee is now coming under intense pressure from the Interior Ministry to produce results following the Swedish Embassy’s dispatch last month of an official letter urging the Thai government to discover the fate of millions of baht donated to the center by Swedes.

Complaints of fraud against the project began to emerge after Swedes who donated money came to see the shelter, established in early 2005 by Narin and his Swedish wife Maria Floren.

Visitors asked Swedish newspaper Expressen to investigate whether the children at the shelter were tsunami victims, following reports that many were just kids from Isarn, and, according to some reports, relatives of Narin.

Nikorn Torhirunyapreuk, Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) of Thalang District and current head of the probe (technically a non-criminal investigation), told the Gazette on October 17 that officials had questioned about 10 people but have still been unable to contact the man in the center of the scandal, Narin.

“We heard that he is still in Sweden and all we can do is await his return. We can’t prevent him from leaving Thailand or traveling internationally because he has not been charged with anything. We will keep our eyes open for him and investigate further when he returns,” Palad Nikorn said.

In the meantime the foundation’s home will remain open because it is still being run in accordance with the terms of its original charter, he added.

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

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