Thai minister says aide not involved in massive mask-hoarding

PHOTO: Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow - Bangkok Post

Responding to a report on Facebook, the Thai Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow admitted today that his assistant met a man who was reported to be hoarding face masks, but he denied they discussed the mask trade. The post alleged that Thamanat’s close aide had a hoard of 200 million medical masks for resale to China.

He said on his own Facebook page there was a man hoarding masks for sale, but emphasised he has no connection with the man, who he named.

Apparently contradicting himself, he went on to say that his close aide, Pittinant Rak-iad, was advised by a friend to meet the man at the Marriott Hotel in Bangkok’s Pratunam area to discuss a matter involving masks, but they did not make any deal to trade in masks.

According to Thamanat, Pittinant didn’t know the man and it was their first meeting. He claims he instructed Pittinant to ask police to take action against the man. He says that if Pittinant were involved in any such offence, he would support his prosecution.

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He also said the story was an attempt to discredit him and seek his removal from the cabinet.

Thamanat, aka Manat Bophlom, was convicted of conspiring to import heroin to Australia in 1994, and sentenced to six years imprisonment. He served four years, then was deported upon his release. Thamanat denies the conviction, and claims he never confessed to the charges.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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