Moves over the weekend to release the men before they had lodged an appeal against the verdict and sentence handed down last week, backfired as the court ordered an injunction on their temporary release until the Court of Appeal process plays out. It said the case was too serious and the risk of the defendant’s taking flight from the kingdom too great.
Two senior Revenue Department officials remained behind bars on Monday after the Court of Appeal rejected a move, over the weekend, to seek their temporary release from prison. One of them, Mr Satit Rungkasiri, is a former Director-general of Thailand’s Revenue Department. He was handed down a term of life imprisonment last Thursday after being found guilty of playing a part in a VAT refund fraud conducted in Bangkok between 2012 and 2013 which cost the Thai state ฿3.09 billion.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases denied a petition filed on Saturday, 21st August on behalf of two senior Revenue Department officials for temporary release after both were convicted of malfeasance and fraudulently submitting false claims for VAT refunds in respect of 25 companies linked with District 22 in the Bang Rak area of Bangkok.
The two petitions to the court were accompanied by cash security in respect of one of the defendants and title documents to a property in respect of the other, submitted by the wives of the convicted men.
Fraudulent VAT refunds cost the state ฿3.09 billion when they were paid out to 25 companies and concealed by the senior officials at the top
One of them is Mr Satit Rungkasiri, a former Director-general of the Revenue Department, who along with the District Chief of Bang Rak, Mr Siripong Riyakarn, was handed down a life sentence by the court on Thursday, August 19th when they were, along with a third defendant, a businessman named as Mr Prasit Anyachote, sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to repay the state ฿3.09 billion in damages.
It is understood from the prosecutor’s office linked with the case, that moves are being made to confiscate the assets of all the men concerned after police had already seized gold bars weighing 77kg and with a value, subject to price fluctuations, of ฿148.5 million.
Scam linked to 25 firms controlled by a businessman defendant in the case who also received a life sentence
It is understood that the claims submitted by the 25 firms for refunds were linked to Mr Prasit.
The VAT refunds were not lawfully due by the firms but the details of the fraudulent claims were kept concealed from officers working within District 22 by the local district chief, Mr Siripong, to prevent an audit of the firms concerned.
This was done with the acquiescence of the former Director-general of the Revenue Department.
The scam was carried out in 2012 and 2013.
Son of businessman acquitted by the court
A fourth defendant in the case, the son of Mr Prasit, Mr Kittisak Anyachote, was acquitted by the court when it handed down its verdict on Thursday.
On Saturday, a request for an order of temporary release pending an appeal of the verdict was made to the Court Appeal on behalf of the defendants and accompanied by securities proposed to the court by the wives of the two revenue officials.
Wives posted securities to secure the release of tax officials from prison but the request was refused
Mrs Kanchana Rangkasiri provided cash security of ฿800,000 while the wife of the District 22 Supervisor, Mrs Waraporn Riyakan, submitted the deeds to a property valued at over ฿1.8 million to secure the release of her husband from custody.
The Court of Appeal, on Monday, dismissed the requests leaving all defendants committed to prison.
The court found that the sentence imposed and the serious nature of the charges made the risk of the defendants attempting to flee the country too high.
Court noted that no appeal was yet filed against the verdict and issued an injunction preventing their release until the case is reviewed by the higher court
It also noted that both former government officials had not yet filed an appeal to the higher court in the matter. This only added to its doubts on the issue.
It refused the application and ordered a temporary injunction on any court ordering the release of the convicted men while the appeals process is underway and until it is concluded.
At court, reporters were able to confirm that the three men sentenced last week remain imprisoned at a facility run by the Department of Corrections.