Senator Upakit denies links to suspected Myanmar drug boss or Prayut’s party
Senator Upakit Pachareeyangkun, who is facing allegations of asset concealment and connection to a drug ring, affirmed his innocence at a press conference on Friday.
Amid tears, Upakit said he was a victim of political persecution although he has no connection with the United Thai Nation Party (UTNP) of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Upakit insisted he had rented his building to UTNP leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga long before Pirapan would use it as the head office of the UTNP and clarified that he did not know Prayut, UTNP’s tentative prime minister candidate, in a personal capacity.
During a debate in February, Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome alleged that the UTNP had a tycoon with links to drug trafficking as its financial supporter. Without naming Upakit, Rangsiman said the UTNP has its head office located inside the building owned by a senator allegedly linked to the drug trade.
Rangsiman alleged that the senator had escaped arrest because of interference by the government. He alleged that the senator had helped a Myanmar drug boss to launder money via businesses along the Thai-Myanmar border.
Upakit insisted that Pirapan had rented the building for his private office but later turned it into the UTNP’s head office.
“I didn’t know beforehand that it would become a party head office,” Upakit said.
He said he believed he was selected as a senator because he has knowledge of foreign affairs and the electricity generating business, and that his selection had nothing to do with his close connection to Prayut as alleged.
“So, I am definitely a political victim,” Upakit said.
In September last year, more than 100 police from the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s Division 2 raided five spots to arrest drug suspects, including Upakrit’s Myanmar business partner Tun Min Latt and the senator’s son-in-law.
Upakrit said he had no connection or influence to help anyone and his son-in-law has been in jail for seven months pending the trial.
“I’ll swear by all the sacred things in the world that I and my family are not involved in drug trafficking as alleged,” Upakit said.
He also insisted that he no longer owned any stake in Allure Group Co Ltd and Allure Resort Hotel in Tachilek as he had already sold his shares.
On January 26, an activist, Atchariya Ruangrattnapong, filed a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), alleging that Upakrit had made a false assets declaration. Atchariya alleged that Upakrit had informed the NACC he had sold the hotel and shares in the group but he was actually holding the shares via a nominee.