Phuket Media Watch – Bounty offered in Sophoth theft case


Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Bounty for fugitive in Sophoth case
The Nation
A 200,000-baht bounty has been offered for the capture of the alleged ringleader, reportedly on the run in Laos, who took millions of baht during the burglary at Transport Ministry permanent secretary Suphoth Sublom’s house.

A senior commander, Police-Col Yanyong Wej-osoth, said “wanted” posters for Weerasak Chuelee, featuring the 200,000-baht bounty, had been distributed in the Tha Khaew area along the Mekong River. Six teams of Thai police working with Lao police expect to apprehend Weerasak soon.

The National Anti-corruption Commission (NACC) will reveal details of assets found in Suphoth’s home after an inspection is completed, said senior NACC official Methee Krongkaew. A large number of documents, bank transaction slips and a computer were seized for inspection from Suphoth’s home.

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Previously it was reported that police had summoned Transport Ministry permanent secretary Suphoth Sublom for further questioning about the burglary of his Bangkok home, particularly about exactly how much money was stolen from him.

The November 11 break-in, in which the suspects reportedly got away with some 200 million baht in cash, resulted in the arrest of nine suspects and the recovery of some 18 million baht in cash.

Three suspects remain at large: alleged gang leader Weerasak Chualee, Pongsak Namwong and Kamnuan Meknoi.

Metropolitan Police Bureau commander Winai Thongsong said that local police had contacted their Laotian counterparts to help locate Weerasak, who is reportedly hiding in that country.

Winai dismissed news reports that Weerasak had contacted police to arrange a surrender. The officer said he had sent police to check Weerasak’s home in Kanchanaburi upon learning that the suspect had stopped there, but they found no cash.

After an initial delay to allow police to determine how much money had been seized from the suspects, Winai said Suphoth was summoned and asked to supply additional information – including the precise amount of money stolen – as the amount police seized from suspects did not match the amount Suphoth had initially told police he had lost.

Winai said Metropolitan Police Colonel Banleusak Khlib-ngern had applied for a court order to search nine locations in which suspect Prapan Ruangkrua, who earlier turned himself in, might have hidden stolen cash. Seven locations were in Pathum Thani, one was in Nakhon Nayok and one was Prapan’s former workplace at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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