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Two arrested over B1.6bn university embezzlement

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Two arrested over B1.6bn university embezzlement
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Following the arrest yesterday of two suspects for allegedly embezzling some 1.6 billion baht from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lat Krabang (KMITL), the institute said a committee had been working over the past week with a view to establishing the facts, gathering more evidence against the alleged wrongdoers and retrieving the lost money.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has now helped the police trace related money transactions involving more accomplices in the embezzlement.

Police believe many people were involved in the scam, while KMITL’s acting rector said he was not sure if any previous administrative executives were implicated. While acknowledging that the lost money had been held in reserve, hence its disappearance could affect future useful projects, Monai Krairiksh insisted the loss had not affected KMITL projects, or teaching and learning.

He said that the institute would cooperate with the police investigation, and that its committee had already gathered evidence and was ready to hand it over to the police upon request.

Police spokesman Pol Lt Gen Prawuth Thavornsiri told a press conference that two suspects – KMITL finance division head Ampon Noisamrit, 56, and the ex-manager of Bank of Ayudhya’s Big C Srinakarin branch, Songklod Sriprasong, 40 – had been apprehended to face charges of forgery and using fake KMITL documents, and colluding to embezzle the institute’s money over a two-year period.

Only Songklod, arrested in the On Nuj area, was presented at yesterday’s press conference because Ampon, whose salary is being withheld by KMITL pending the outcome of the investigation, was receiving medical treatment for diabetes at a Bang Na private hospital, he said.

“Police will extend these arrests to apprehend more accomplices, as the money was transferred to a third person’s bank account,” he said, adding that the matter was also being referred to the AMLO.

Gen Prawuth said yesterday’s arrests had stemmed from KMITL’s investigation on December 12 into the missing money and alleged document forgery, which led to a police complaint being filed on December 16 against Ampon and Songklod.

Suspicion first arose in October after Ampon reportedly withdrew 80mn baht from KMITL’s bank accounts in order to deposit the money into another account at the Bank of Ayudhya’s Big C Srinakarin branch, where Songklod then served as manager, for a higher interest rate, the spokesman explained.

The institute became suspicious of the strange cashier’s-cheque issuance and launched an investigation, during which it discovered that the recipient account belonged to another person, identified as Poonsak Boonsawat.

But by that time, the account was closed and the 80mn baht was gone.

The institute then checked other three accounts back until 2012 and found they were false accounts, which had been emptied of 510mn baht, 314mn baht and 759mn baht, respectively. So, the total loss stood at 1.663bn baht, including the 80mn baht withdrawn in October, the spokesman said.

Songklod reportedly admitted knowing Ampon for a decade as a customer, but denies any wrongdoing.

He claims that all transactions seemed to have proper documentation, and that Ampon’s senior official status at a well-known institute made him trust her and believe that nothing corrupt was going on, Prawuth said.

Songklod said he had left his job at the bank job two months ago after failing to pass his probation as manager, the spokesman added.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright

Caitlin Ashworth

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But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

A Thai producer says he came up with the superhero “Ultraman,” but he recently lost a battle with a Japanese special effects studio over the copyright. The Thailand Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the owner of the Thai Chaiyo Productions Company Limited who tried to claim copyright for the superhero films which date back to the 1960s.

Owner of the Thai production company, Sompo Saengduanchai, says the superhero comes from his imagination. He says he created Ultraman while on a fellowship in Japan studying film production. He claims he was involving the projects “Jumbo A”, “Ultraman 1 – Ultra Q,” “Ultraman 2,” “Ultraman Seven,” “Return of Ultraman,” “Ultraman Ace,” “Ultraman Taro,” “Jamborg Ace” and “Hanuman Meets Seven Superheroes.”

Chaiyo Productions Company Limited has been in a copyright war with the Japanese special effects studio Tsubaraya Productions Company Limited. The Appeals Court ruled in Tsubaraya’s favor, then Chaiyo appealed that decision. That appeal was just rejected by the Supreme Court Division for Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade.

The Japanese special effects studio is best known for the “Ultra” TV series. It was founded in 1963 by special effects producer Eiji Tsubaraya and the “Ultra” series first aired in 1966. His family ran the company until October 2007, when the family sold the company to advertising agency TYO Inc.

Sompo says he’s worried that the Supreme Court decision will have a negative affect on his movies. He says some are registered as national heritage cultural properties.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Politics

Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful

Maya Taylor

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Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says former immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, shouldn’t assume his transfer to an inactive post in the PM’s Office was unlawful. Surachate, known by the nickname “Big Joke” (given to him by Thai media) headed up Thailand’s Immigration Bureau until he was unceremoniously side-lined by the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha last year.

It’s understood he is now planning to sue the PM, claiming that the lack of any investigation against him shows there were no grounds for the transfer. His lawyer, Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, says other officers transferred to the PM’s Office have since been re-instated, after being cleared of any wrongdoing. He insists his client deserves the same, pointing out that in the 1 year and 5 months since his transfer, there has been no investigation against him.

For his part, Deputy PM Wissanu says Surachate has the right to sue the PM if he so wishes but shouldn’t assume his transfer is similar to that of former National Security Council chief, Thawil Pliensri, who was transferred under former PM Ying­luck Shinawatra in 2011. The transfer was subsequently deemed unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Bangkok Post reports that Wissanu doesn’t rule out the possibility of Surachate being re-instated, saying the PM’s Office should submit the issue for the PM’s consideration. For his part, Surachate claims his petitions to the PM have fallen on deaf ears.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

New army chief declares he’ll protect Thailand’s monarchy and restore peace

Caitlin Ashworth

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New army chief declares he’ll protect Thailand’s monarchy and restore peace | The Thaiger
PHOTO: naewna

At a time of mass pro-democracy protests, with some activists facing charges for criticising the role of the Thai head of state, the new army chief says he pledges to restore peace and protect the country’s monarchy. In a ceremony formerly saying farewell to retiring generals, incoming army chief Narongphan Jitkaewtae said he would restore peace and be loyal to the Thai Monarchy.

His statement comes at a time when many people are speaking out against Thailand’s military-run government and calling for changes to the constitution (voted for by referendum in 2017). A number of protest leaders face charges relating to their actions at protests, like breaking the emergency decree back in July for holding a large public gathering, as well as violating the lèse majesté law for criticising or insulting Thailand’s King or members of the royal family.

“Protecting the monarchy with absolute loyalty and supporting the government to resolve national problems and working to advance the country are tasks for which the generals deserve the honour.”

Narongphan praised the more than 250 retiring generals, including the outgoing army chief, saying they all dedicated their time to protect Thailand and maintain law and order.

“We faithfully pledge to carry on your ideologies and perform our duties to the best of our ability, to ensure peace in society, foster national unity and support the country’s development.”

The retiring defence forces chief Pornpipat Benyasri said he was proud for his service in the armed forces and will continue to defend the country’s sovereignty, people and the Monarchy after his service has ended.

“We won’t hesitate to sacrifice our time whenever we are needed.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post

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