Thailand

Police corruption scandal: Amlo agrees to freeze 104 plots held by Pongpat

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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Police corruption scandal: Amlo agrees to freeze 104 plots held by Pongpat
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Anti-Money Laundering Office yesterday agreed to freeze 104 plots of land worth about 400 million baht jointly held by former crime-buster Pol Lt Gen Pongpat Chayaphan on the assumption that they were acquired unlawfully.

“In the next 30 days, any plots that Gen Pongpat or joint owners fail to prove that they have acquired lawfully will be seized,” said Seehanart Prayoonrat, secretary-general of AMLO.

Of all plots under 136 land titles in his name, 104 that he acquired after becoming the commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau four years ago had been ordered frozen

AMLO would notify the other owners of the dates to meet with AMLO officials to verify their ownership or acquisition of these land plots.

Yesterday’s decision by AMLO was approved by its board on grounds that the land plots had likely been bought with money given to Gen Pongpat by illegal gambling dens across the country, a huge amount daily, since his promotion as CIB chief on October 1, 2010.

Gambling proceeds are some of the ill-gotten assets subject to seizure under AMLO regulations.

AMLO will later verify other assets of Gen Pongpat after receiving lists from police investigators, which would include dozens of artifacts and luxury cars. Assets of other members of Gen Pongpat’s racket will also soon undergo AMLO inspection, he said.

AMLO is tracing possible money flows from Gen Pongpat to other countries but the amount might not be large as Gen Pongpat and other members, given their apparent experience, were able to hide the transactions, he said.

As for Gen Pongpat’s connection with the petrol smuggling business in the Deep South run by fugitive Pattani-based businessman Sahachai Jiansermsin, AMLO has not yet come across bank records.

“It’s possible that these people made payments in cash,” he added.

Borwornwej Rungrujee, director-general of the Fine Arts Department, said more than 30 art objects from Gen Pongpat’s collection of about 30,000 items found at two locations in Nonthaburi were proven authentic and worth an estimated 10mn baht.

The imitations will be sent back to police while the genuine articles will stay with the National Museum of Thailand, he added. Borwornwej has said authentic items of foreign origin, including present-day Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, will be returned.

The owners of Sawong Antique shop and Sawong apartment where the items were hidden will be prosecuted after they failed to produce permits to possess and sell certain antiques.

Pol Maj Gen Prasobchoke Phrommool, the commander of the police division tasked with preserving the environment, said the owners, Sawong Mungthiang and Rerngsak Saknarongdej, would be prosecuted for possessing carcasses of endangered animals and ivory without a permit.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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