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Official on gambling network charges

An executive member of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) has surrendered to Bangkok police to answer charges of involvement in an online gambling network.

Rungruang Thimabutr, assistant secretary-general of the SBPAC, was accompanied by his lawyer when he reported to Pol Capt Ritthada Khruesuk, deputy investigation chief at Thung Mahamek, around 10.30pm on Tuesday.

Mr Rungruang was wanted on an arrest warrant issued by the Bangkok South Criminal Court on Aug 17 for colluding in operating online gambling and advertising or persuading people to gamble illegally, directly or indirectly, money laundering and other related offences, a police source said.

Officers from the Police Cyber Taskforce (PCT) had earlier arrested six members of the 888Point (Eaddy) gambling network and seized cash and other assets worth about 46 million baht during a raid in Bangkok.

Thung Mahamek police extended the investigation and found that the mastermind of the gambling network was a senior figure in the government sector who also ran hotel, resort and construction businesses in  several provinces.

Investigators then compiled their case to support an application to the Bangkok South Criminal Court for a warrant for the arrest of Mr Rungruang.

During questioning on Wednesday the assistant secretary-general of the SBPAC denied all charges.

Under the arrest warrant, police could detain him for 48 hours before taking him to court.

Mr Rungruang was allowed police bail after placing 200,000 baht cash as surety.

He was released around 8am on Wednesday. He is required to report back to Thung Mahamek police station for further questioning on Sept 17.

Mr Rungruang formerly served as chief of Sungai Kolok district in Narathiwat province and received an outstanding civil servant award in 2020 for his performance in drug suppression, particularly his role in leading officials to arrest defence volunteers and police who were involved in illicit drugs. This led to the sacking of those rogue officers from the police force.

He was later appointed assistant secretary-general of the SBPAC.

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