A cargo vessel docked at Bangkok. The Department of Special Investigation says overtime is necessary, but the port authority is paying out hundreds of millions of baht a year in fraudulent claims.(Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
False overtime claims by 560 employees at the Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) are costing the state enterprise 300-400 million baht a year, according to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
The figures were released by the DSI’s director for intellectual property cases, Pinit Tungsakul, who is supervising an investigation into overtime fraud at PAT.
He said on Monday the DSI had finally completed its investigation into a complaint concerning PAT’s overtime claims. It had sent its report, about 420,000 pages in all, to the National Anti-Corruption Commission for further action.
The DSI had accepted the case for investigation in 2014 and only now finished because the case was big and complicated, Col Pinit said.
The authority offered services around the clock, including vessel navigation at ports, cargo handling between ports and ships, and cargo storage and delivery, so overtime claims by employees were to be expected, he said.
However, PAT employees had claimed overtime even when they had not worked the extra hours. Moreover, their departments had forwarded the claims, and supervisors and those with authority to approve overtime payment had failed to verify them, Col Pinit said.
“Fake claims amounted to 300-400 million baht a year. I believe the fraud had continued for a very long time,” the DSI director said. He did not give a figure for the total cost.
The corruption had occurred in most departments of the PAT and those involved ranged from low to high levels, and included nine division heads, one office chief and a former assistant director of Laem Chabang Port, he said.