By Kornkamon Aksorndech,
Sirichok Siriwannapa, a former member of the Chart Thai Pattana Party, has been arrested for his involvement in the UFUN alleged pyramid scheme, police announced yesterday.
The 43-year-old reportedly admitted to investing in the scheme, but insisted he did not invite anybody else to join. Police, however, believe that besides investing in the scheme, Sirichoke also helped conceal the assets of a UFUN executive.
At a press conference yesterday, Sirichoke and Wipassaya Jitchai, 25, both facing arrest since June 23, were presented along with Thanapol na Lampang, 32, and Apinop Sornsanporn, 37, who had surrendered earlier.
Sirichoke confessed that he had close ties with fugitive UFUN executive Arthit Pankaew, and admitted that they had participated in two land deals.
The first transaction was in July last year, when Sirichoke sold Arthit a Bt10-million plot in Pathum Thani’s Lam Luk Ka district and the other in August last year when he sold him a Bt12-million plot in Nakhon Nayok’s Ongkharak district.
The second sale saw land rights transferred in what is known locally as an “on loy” transaction, where the recipient’s name is left empty or forms are filled but not really submitted to the authority.
Sirichoke said Arthit then invited him to join the UFUN scheme, so he invested Bt12 million he had earned from land deals, adding that he was only able to recover Bt9 million from his investment and did not file a police complaint because he was embarrassed.
He also insisted that Bt30 million found in his bank account came from the land deals, and not from UFUN. He went on to say that he had given up his party membership, as the party had nothing to do with it.
After discovering that Sirichoke had transferred Bt30 million to UFUN, police believed that Sirichoke had either co-invested or helped Arthit conceal his assets, assistant national police chief Pol Lt-General Suwira Songmetta explained.
Meanwhile, Wipassaya said she and 15 of her friends and relatives had attended UFUN seminars last year. After that, she said, she invested Bt17,500 and volunteered to invest in other people’s behalf through her account. This, she said, explained the flow of Bt17 million through her account to UFUN.
Consumer Protection Police Division deputy chief Pol Colonel Angkul Klaikleung, meanwhile, is calling on the 117 wanted suspects to surrender so they have a better chance of being released on bail.