Democrat Party leader denies ties with billion-baht pork smuggling suspect

Democrat Party leader Chalermchai Sri-on yesterday refuted whispers of familial connections with the primary suspect in a billion-baht pork smuggling saga. Li Sheng Jiao, also known as Hia Kao (Brother Kao), is among four individuals sought by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on multiple charges including money laundering, customs act infringements and tax evasion.

Earlier this week, arrest warrants were issued for the four suspects as DSI officers conducted raids at five sites in Bangkok. These included private shipping companies and cold-storage facilities, where they hoped to uncover critical evidence of pork smuggling. The search yielded photographs of Li in the company of high-ranking police, senior civil servants from various agencies, politicians, and ex-Cabinet ministers.

Certain media outlets reported that Li is the half-brother of a prominent politician and the chairperson of a trade association. Furthermore, his son, suspect Karin Piyapornpaiboon, shares a surname with Chalermchai Sri-on’s elder brother, Wirat Piyapornpaiboon.

“I have neither blood ties nor a close relationship with Li,” Chalermchai Sri-on said.

He conceded that they had met at an event attended by politicians and businesspeople. He also admitted that Li’s son had requested to use his brother’s surname. However, he insisted that was the extent of their connection.

“Even if the suspects were my relatives or close associates, they must face punishment. I wouldn’t protect them. Don’t politicise the matter.”

Chalermchai pointed out that during his tenure as agriculture minister, he had directed the Livestock Department to tighten controls on pork imports and their products. He stressed that any products lacking the necessary documentation must be destroyed.

Agriculture Minister Captain Thamanat Prompow yesterday encouraged the DSI to expedite their investigation of the case, which has been criticised for its sluggish progress. Capt. Thamanat highlighted that the suspect serves as the chairperson of a trade association, and it is not uncommon for individuals in such positions to be photographed with politicians.

The DSI initiated their investigation following the confiscation of 4,025 tonnes of pork contained in 161 shipping containers at the Laem Chabang Port in mid-2023, reported Bangkok Post.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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