By The Nation
Phitchaphipha Sritrakulrak, 56, chairman of Panpee Group (Thai, Laos, Cambodia), was arrested for the crimes that allegedly caused about Bt30 million in damages.
Deputy commander of the Tourist police bureau Pol Maj General Surachet Hakparn said the arrest was conducted following a series of complaints from farmers who became suspicious of the suspect’s firm.
The firm claimed that it had been allocated a budget from the UN to loan farmers Bt1 million each at a low interest rate, and it would buy their crops at a guaranteed price.
Before they could get the money, however, the farmers had to pay a membership fee of between Bt2,000 and Bt5,000 to the company. They also had to pay Bt2,500 to attend seminars organised by the company. Surachet said that these conditions were fraudulent.
The suspect earlier claimed he conducted the business as contract farming.
In response to the Thai Agriculture Ministry’s inquiry, Deirdre Boyd, UN coordinator, said that the project being implemented by the company did not belong to the UN System Agencies, Funds and Programmes, nor is there any affiliation of the project with the UN System in Thailand.
The warrant for Phitchaphipha’s arrest was issued by Surin Court after a complaint by Nachon Trongjai, chairperson of Shiny Intercorperation company. He said the suspect attempted to gather unmilled rice from farmers to export to foreign countries.
However, when Nachon got the rice from 325 farmers, the suspect failed to pay as promised.
Surachet said the suspect is facing three other fraud charges.