Officials 'bribed by traffickers'

Five senior officials manning provincial centres to register migrant workers have been transferred to inactive posts after investigators alleged they caught them in the act of taking bribes from a human trafficking gang.

The order was issued by Employment Department chief Sumet Mahosot on Tuesday and took immediate effect.

The five officials are C7 and C8-level civil servants, and headed their centres’ unit for approving and issuing work permits for foreign workers. They are Manthacha Surin, Chayachart Chupan, Kosit Kositkarn, Warangkana Warotama, and Yanin Boonmee. They were based at Chiang Rai, Tak, Ranong, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakorn respectively.  

Mr Sumet said he had received complaints from the public that the officials allowed private individuals to collect 1,400 to 1,600 baht from each foreign worker applying for a visa extension at the five centres. The "facilitators" claimed they had close connections with top officials, and could provide convenience to their application.

The centres normally charge 500 baht for a visa extension for a migrant. 

The complaints said the top official at each centre received part of the money generated by the influence-peddling gang. 

Mr Sumet ordered the setting up of a committee to investigate the alleged misconduct of the five immigration officials. He pledged to take both disciplinary and criminal action against the group if a probe found the charges warranted further action. 

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