Police have arrested four high-profile suspects in connection with a fraudulent investment ring, including a well-known tourism project, with damage estimated at 1 billion baht.
Crime suppression officers launched a sting operation at nine locations in Greater Bangkok this week. They acted on complaints filed by thousands of victims.
They took into custody Lt Col Dr Amraporn Visetsuk, chairwoman of the Tiao Puea Chart (Travel for the Country) project, and three others, on charges of public fraud and collaborating in fraudulent public borrowing. All of them denied the charges.
Still at large are suspected ringleader Prasit Jeawkok, chairman of the Kuen Khun Pandin (Paying Back the Land) project, and Kiattisak Yennanond.
According to its website, the project involves charity work and donations to the public.
The suspects allegedly set up a network of several companies and lured people to invest in them in various ways by offering high returns, Pol Maj Gen Suwat Sangnoom, chief of the Crime Suppression Division, said on Saturday.
Initially, the investors received dividends and were persuaded to invest more until the flows stopped.
According to police, the types of fraudulent investment were:
- Offering tour packages, some of which did not materialise;
- Persuading people to put money in savings cooperative-like investments with promises of high returns;
- Asking people to buy/sell luxury products online from one of their companies and then rent them out, with them managing the transactions and compensation;
- Persuading people to co-invest in their personal investment funds by chipping in gold or cash. They promised a 9.5% return every 21 days;
- Asking people to buy gold from shops and bring the gold, together with receipts, to invest with them. They promised a 43.5% return on the value in the receipts. The profit was to be paid in two instalments and the investment costs repaid over 10 months.
Last year, Pannika Wanich, spokeswoman for the Progressive Movement, accused Mr Prasit of being behind the army’s now-discredited “information operation” (IO) and allowing the army to use the servers under his control for free.
During a talk with a well-known TV host in early December on the accusation, Mr Prasit boasted of his royalist credentials and unbuttoned his shirt to show a “Long Live the King” tattoo on his chest. Even if he supported IO, he declared, it was a “good IO”.
Yuenyong “Add Carabao” Opakul, the veteran songs for life composer and performer, is a big fan. He wrote the song Prasit the Giver, praising his good deeds under the Kuen Khun Pandin project in July 2019.
Prasit Jeawkok (holding microphone), chairman of the Kuen Khun Pandin project, speaks during a briefing last October in Bangkok on how to revive the economy. He is now at large after police cracked down on an allegedly fraudulent network of companies controlled by him this week. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)