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Thai business people allege they were duped by Myanmar scam promising Bt200m returns

Oct 09. 2017
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By PIYANUCH TAMNUKASETCHAI
THE NATION

SEVERAL THAI business people have filed complaints with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) alleging they were duped into investing Bt300 million in a Bt500-billion mega-project in Myanmar’s Mon state.

Contacts for the project claimed to be connected to members of the state’s royalty as part of a sales pitch to convince Thai investors, DSI deputy chief Pol Major Suriya Singhakamon said yesterday. 

Citing complaints by construction contractor Chanon, whose last name was withheld, and several others, Suriya said the alleged wrongdoing took place two years ago when a group of companies convinced 100 Thai companies to invest in 78 smaller projects including an airport and a civil-service complex. 

Chanon said he had drawn designs for 78 projects in the expectation of being paid Bt20 million, but the money was never delivered. 

He added that he and other investors were told that a person who invested Bt100,000 to Bt200,000 in the project would realise Bt200 million to Bt300 million in returns. 

Chanon also urged other investors to file complaints to avoid being considered conspirators.

The DSI investigation also found that Thai investors had also been invited to become members of a disaster-mitigation volunteer foundation allegedly linked to the Royal Thai Police (RTP), to which they allegedly could make donations in exchange for police ranks, Suriya said.

A Bt50,000 donation was supposed to secure a police major-general rank and a Bt80,000 donation would get a lieutenant-general rank. The donors would then get two sets of what resembled police uniforms with decorative items indicating rankings to wear to charity events, Suriya said. 

An executive of the foundation who is a former police had surrendered to DSI officers and claimed to have been duped by the same group of companies, Suriya said. The foundation faces a forgery charge as the RTP had not been given permission to use the force’s name in the foundation registration.

The investigation also discovered a group of journalists had been hired to cover news about the group of companies and the alleged royal, who was identified as Kyaw Myint Oo or Thepyothin Mahathun, as well as product launches and charity events, which senior Thai officials were invited to attend, Suriya said. 

DSI officers also uncovered documents from a female executive with the group of companies, Supattha Chantharangsi, that suggested the entire mega-project was a hoax. 

That evidence led to a court granting arrest warrants for three suspects, two of whom were already in custody while Kyaw Myint Oo remained at large in Myanmar, Suriya said. Authorities would apply for arrest warrants for more accomplices including the involved officials and journalists, he added.

According to the arrest warrants issued on Wednesday, the three wanted suspects were company executive Supattha, Kyaw Myint Oo and a Thai man identified as Kosin Jina-on. The warrants were based on charges of fraud and violations of the Computer Crime Act.

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