Amlo freezes THB5.3bn in assets of alleged MORE stock manipulator
The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) has frozen 5.3 billion baht in assets belonging to the fourth-largest shareholder in More Return Plc (MORE) and his associates over suspicion they manipulated the share price.
Amlo said it froze the assets of Apimuk Bamrungwong and 24 other suspects and is seeking legal action against them over alleged money laundering.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) last week suspended trading in MORE stock at the request of brokers after a major buyer defaulted on payment for 1.5 billion shares worth 4.4 billion baht.
An investigation then found that Apimuk and 24 of his alleged accomplices had lodged purchase orders with their broker to buy 1.5 billion shares at 2.90 baht on November 10 – after the MORE stock closed at 2.79 baht on November 9.
Amlo took action after receiving the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) report on the deal dated November 20 (Sunday).
The CIB launched its investigation after representatives of 11 security brokerages met with the Economic Crime Suppression Division on Wednesday, seeking a probe of Apimuk and MORE.
According to the SET, irregularities were spotted on November 10 when trading in MORE stocks rose to more than 7.14 billion baht – the highest in both the SET and MAI (Market for Alternative Investment) – while the share value plummeted from 2.9 baht to 1.95 baht, shocking investors.
Amlo said the 25 suspects have no family connection but their purchase orders shared the same Internet Protocol (IP) address as the IP address of Apimuk.
Amlo alleged that Apimuk and his associates did not really intend to buy the MORE shares but were instead manipulating the share price to profit from the margin.
On Monday, the SET removed the suspension on MORE stock trading, which resulted in the price plummeting another 29.93% to close the day at 0.96 baht. Trade volume in the stock on Monday hit 8.5 million baht.
SET president Pakorn Peetathawatchai said the resumption of trading in MORE stock would not affect the system as the SET has anticipated all possible impacts by running a computer simulation. He said the affected brokers would still be able to conduct their business as normal.