FORMER deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn was arrested at a luxury resort in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district yesterday morning in relation to the death of billionaire Chuwong Saetang, a source revealed.
Banyin appeared indifferent and refused to speak to the media while escorted by police to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) office in Bangkok for questioning.
Earlier yesterday, Central Investigation Bureau chief Thitirat Nonghanpithak had assigned a team led by CSD superintendent Colonel Jirapop Phuridej to arrest Banyin – who was found with former stock broker Uracha Wachirakulton, 26, at the resort.
His arrest was based on a warrant issued on Monday on a charge of premeditated murder and moves to conceal other crimes related to ill-gotten gains.
Thitirat quoted Banyin as saying that he would only testify in court, but police investigators said they had enough evidence to prosecute the former deputy minister, including CCTV footage.
He explained that police had so far found only one suspect in the case, saying investigators would continue to see if there were any other accomplices and proceed accordingly.
A police source revealed that the arrest warrant and subsequent detention of Banyin stemmed from the CSD, which had experts including university academics study and analyse the accident that led to Chuwong’s death.
It also has reports from the Medical Council of Thailand on Chuwong’s wounds and the autopsy report.
Construction tycoon Chuwong, 50, was found dead in the front passenger seat of a car driven by Banyin that hit a tree beside the road in Prawet district in Bangkok on June 26, 2015.
Chuwong’s relatives’ complained that the death was suspicious, given that shares worth Bt260 million had been transferred to two women, including Uracha, just days before his death.
Yesterday afternoon, Chuwong’s sister Wanpen Thanathamsiri and his widow Sirirat Saetang visited the CSD office to thank the officers for arresting Banyin. Wanpen said the family was satisfied with the development after having to wait nearly a year for justice.
She also noted that it was obvious that Uracha, who is a suspect in the Chuwong share-transfer case, was close to Banyin. Uracha had previously claimed that she was close to Chuwong and did not know Banyin well.
Wanpen said her brother was accused of transferring shares to women out of affection, which was untrue because he did not have any questionable sexual affairs as previously reported. She claimed the motive for murder was greed for his shares, so people made up stories and killed Chuwong for fear that he would catch them for the crime. She said the late businessman’s relatives were confident that more than one person had a hand in plotting the murder.
Sirirat said Chuwong’s death allegedly at the hands of his friend Banyin should serve as a cautionary tale for others – they should check on a person’s background before befriending them, even if they have a high position and status in society.