Recently, the Public Warehouse Organization (PWO) has called upon the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate the alleged misconduct of a former acting chief, believed to have led to losses exceeding a billion baht. The case revolves around the disappearance of 30,000 tonnes of cassava stock—valued at approximately 210 million baht—from a government-sponsored cassava-pledging project in 2008. The current PWO director, Kriangsak Pratheepwisarut, claims that the damage has since escalated to a worth of more than a billion baht.
The missing cassava stock is suspected to have vanished from twelve privately-operated warehouses engaged by the government to store the agricultural produce. The disappearance of the stock was uncovered by an ad hoc inspection committee in 2020, which included representatives from PWO, the Internal Trade Department, the Department of Foreign Trade, and the warehouse owners themselves.
Following the discovery of the missing cassava, the PWO promptly filed criminal and civil lawsuits against the involved warehouses. The ex-acting PWO chief was then accused of attempting to assist the warehouse owners in evading legal prosecution by easing regulations, thereby allowing them to return the lost stock. Nonetheless, the returned cassava was of inferior quality and worth only around 200 baht per tonne, a significant decrease compared to the initially pledged price of 7,000 baht.
An investigation team from the PWO concluded that the former acting chief’s actions—resulting in the procurement of lower-quality cassava in place of the lost stock—constituted an abuse of authority. Furthermore, their findings aligned with those of the joint inspection committee. According to Mr. Kriangsak, six out of the twelve warehouse owners involved supposedly confessed to the disappearance of the cassava stock.
During the term of the former acting chief, the PWO had withdrawn five orders, demanding compensation from the implicated warehouse owners. The recoverable cassava was auctioned off, ultimately raising less than 6 million baht. This massive loss, along with the alleged misconduct of the PWO’s former acting chief, has sparked widespread concern over the integrity of the cassava-pledging project and the need for stringent regulatory procedures in the agriculture sector. The ongoing investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission is expected to provide much-needed clarity and accountability for this substantial financial loss.