By Jeerapong Prasertponkrung,
A NETWORK of credit union cooperatives called on Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday to help stop the media from shaking public confidence in their cooperative system.
The network also demanded that media outlets be held responsible for damage done to cooperatives from reports on the alleged embezzlement case at the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.
“Some wording in the coverage has caused misunderstanding. Several members of various cooperatives have in the end withdrawn money from the cooperatives,” the network’s leader Chainarong Nujeenseng said, as he submitted a petition to Prayut through a government complaint-receiving centre.
Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, the former chairman of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative, has been accused of embezzling more than Bt10 billion from the cooperative.
As the case has caught the media spotlight, members of more than 1,200 credit-union cooperatives have expressed concern about their savings. A growing number have decided to close their accounts at the cooperatives.
“Irresponsible media coverage has shaken the credit-union cooperative system in the country,” Chainarong complained.
His network criticised in particular a popular news programme on Channel 3 – and headed to the television station to lodge a complaint.
Chainarong also urged Prayut to try to restore the dip in public confidence via his weekly “Returning happiness to the people” programme.
News reports claimed that dozens of cooperatives had lent large amounts of money to the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.
The Central Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to rule on the rehabilitation case of the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative on March 20. An informed source said this cooperative had more than 56,000 creditors.
Meanwhile, investigators continue to try to nail down accused culprits in the embezzlement case. Supachai was found to have channelled the cooperative’s money to many people and entities including the Dhammakaya Temple and its abbot Phra Dhammachayo.
The cooperative has decided to drop all complaints against the Dhammakaya Temple and its abbot after they agreed to return donations of Bt684 million. Authorities, meanwhile, said the case could not be entirely settled out of court due to the criminal nature of the events involved.
In related news, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) officials questioned the abbot of a temple in Maha Sarakham province yesterday after finding he had received Bt23 million from Supachai.
The DSI said the abbot did not appear to have been involved in any suspicious deals – but the previous owner of a land plot the temple had bought with the Bt23-million donation from Supachai would be questioned. Supachai offered the donation specifically for the land purchase.