Anti-Graft Agency to Look Into Army Allowance Money Scandal

File photos of Sgt. Narongchai Inthatrakawi, left, and army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong.

BANGKOK — The army spokesman said Thursday there was sufficient evidence behind a soldier’s claim of a fraud within the army pay system, and the case was sent to the National Anti-Corruption Commission for further inquiry.

Col. Winthai Suvari said the army recommended the case to the national anti-graft agency after a committee studied it and concluded the allegations put forth by a whistleblower soldier had some truths.

“The matter is now with the NACC,” Winthai said on the phone.

However, the army clerk who spoke out about the alleged fraud, Sgt. Narongchai Inthatrakawi, would still face disciplinary action and a trial in the military court for allegedly deserting his post, Winthai said.

“Exposing misconduct is a good thing, but this is a separate matter,” Winthai said.

Although the spokesman insisted the charges are unrelated to Narongchai’s role as a whistleblower, the sergeant said he left the post to file fraud complaints with the military, and he saw the charges as a punishment for his decision to speak out.

A leaked video also showed a general reprimanding Narongchai for going to the civilians about the alleged corruption in the ranks.

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director Brad Adams urged the army to stop “the heavy-handed retaliation” against Narongchai.

Sgt. Narongchai faces up to seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for being absent from his duties for more than 15 days.