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Ex-rector charged in B1.5bn KMITL embezzlement scam




– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Ex-rector charged in B1.5bn KMITL embezzlement scam
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thawil Phuengma, the former rector of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Latkrabang (KMITL) and a suspect in the high-profile siphoning off Bt1.5 billion from KMITL bank accounts, yesterday morning reported to police to hear five serious charges against him.

Pol Lt-General Prawut Thavornsiri, National Police spokesman, said the charges were theft, forgery of official documents, embezzlement, negligence and money laundering.

Another former KMITL executive, Sarut Ratchaburi, who also went to see police a few hours later, was charged with embezzlement, negligence and money laundering.

A third former KMITL executive, Sappasit Limnorarat, postponed his surrender to later today.

Police took Thawil and Sarut to Min Buri Court to seek permission to detain them for interrogation. The court later approved the bail release for Thawil at Bt5 million while Sarut had to remain in custody because he didn’t have enough to pay the collateral.

Prawut told reporters that KMITL had agreed with Crime Suppression police taking legal action on its behalf against the three former executives, who allegedly formed the “big boss” group behind this scandal.

Police believe there were more operatives.

Thawil had allegedly done some suspicious things, like providing a guarantee of the conduct of Songklod Sriprasong, a Siam Commercial Bank branch manager whom the bank was considering transferring after detecting unusual withdrawals.

This revealed Thawil’s alleged unusual close relationship with Songklod, who was a key suspect in this case.

According to Prawut, Thawil opened bank accounts for KMITL, even before his appointment as rector was endorsed, and closed the accounts after he left office. He also sent a letter to the bank saying he didn’t want the bank to audit these accounts or their financial condition, Prawut said.

Thawil told police he had nothing to do with the embezzlement and did not remember which documents he had signed or when.

Prawut said the police forensic team was examining the 300 signatures – including those of five former and current KMITL executives – to compare them with those on the forms authorising transactions. The examination was to be completed and submitted to case investigators this week.

Sarut, the other suspect, brought documents along to show to police and denied all three charges against him.

He said all KMITL lecturers knew Songklod, as he was a bank manager who was good at talking and making friends with people. Songklod had invited him to invest in high-yield funds so he wired money occasionally to Songklod until the banker became noticeably slow in wiring the returns to his account in 2009.

He said he had just learned that the Bt5 million in total that Songklod had transferred to him was actually from KMITL’s accounts, so he plans to sue Songklod after this case is closed.

— Phuket Gazette Editors


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