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Officials want to squeeze money from orange man

Five officials at the Excise Department are being investigated for allegedly demanding payment of a 12,000-baht “fine” from a shop owner who filled a large order for fresh orange juice.

Director-general Lavaron Sangsnit had transferred the five officials from Area Excise Office Bangkok 5 to another office pending an investigation into the allegation, Thai media reported on Thursday.

The move followed a post by a Facebook user that she had initially been delighted to get an order for 500 bottles of fresh orange juice from her shop on Monday.

She had drawn on all her resources to make enough orange juice to meet such a large order, only to find out the following day that she had been set up.

The so-called buyer and the excise officials who showed up at her shop were the same people.

The officials first ate a steak meal at the shop, then looked for the ordered 500 bottles of orange juice. Then they demanded she pay a 12,000-baht fine for the unlicensed production  of orange juice, she wrote.

On Wednesday, spokesman Nathakorn Uthensut said the department had received a complaint from an operator who paid excise tax that some beverage plants were making substandard products and did not pay the tax.

The vendor who posted her message on Facebook was one of the producers mentioned in the complaint, Mr Nathakorn said.

Excise officials advised the vendor to properly register her operation and pay the tax, he said.

According to Mr Nathakorn, the officials said they did not demand a fine, as the woman alleged. 


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