Senator may be on the verge of being prosecuted for money laundering and other offences if the country’s Attorney General gives the say-so following a decision on Friday by investigators to indict the upper house member on criminal charges.

Prosecutors at the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) have decided to indict a sitting Thai senator whose son-in-law was arrested in September last year accused of drug and money laundering offences, also on money laundering charges and other crimes, it was revealed on Friday. A decision must be made to go ahead with the prosecution by the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) by July 26th next with the upper house member, Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun, strongly vowing his innocence in the matter and suggesting that the investigation of his affairs is politically motivated.

Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun (right) during his emotional press conference with the media in March this year in which he protested his innocence. Investigators and police working with the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) have now recommended that he face prosecution for money laundering and other offences. The final decision rests with the Thai Attorney General, Ms Naree Tanthasathien.

The announcement was made by Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) spokesman Kosolwat Inthuchanyong on Friday and follows weeks of reviewing evidence in the case by police investigators and prosecutors assigned to it.

The file on the matter has now been passed to the Attorney-General Ms Naree Tanthasathien, the first female to hold the position, who will decide on whether to proceed with the prosecution before July 26th.

Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun is to be indicted for money laundering and other criminal charges which have not yet been clarified.

Senator met with investigators at the end of March when key allegations in the case were put to him

At the end of March this year, Senator Upakit met with officials and investigators at the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) reviewing the case against him and vehemently denied that there were any grounds for charges that were put to him by investigators.

That case was handed over by a Metropolitan Police Bureau task force by order of the National Police Commissioner General Damrongsak Kittiprapas on the basis that it was properly the domain of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) since it involved activities outside the jurisdiction of the state.

Senator Upakit subsequently submitted further information to the office complaining about difficulties his company network was having as a result of the ongoing enquiries and probe by authorities particularly into the provision of electricity services to customers outside the kingdom in Myanmar.

Case linked to arrest of the senator’s son-in-law and Myanmar tycoon Tun Min Latt in September 2022 charged with drug and money laundering offences

The news comes after strenuous denials by the upper house member who has suggested that the pursuit of the case by police may have a political motive.

The case is understood to be linked to a controversial arrest warrant sought and obtained for a senior unidentified official on October 3rd 2022 at the instigation of a police officer at the head of a drug suppression task force within the Metropolitan Police Bureau only to have it be cancelled hours later.

A subsequent police internal investigation into whether proper procedures were followed, against the officer who requested the rescinded warrant, was set up at the same time as the case against the senator was handed to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG).

The revelations caused Senator Upakit to issue defamation proceedings against outgoing MP Rangsiman Rome of the Move Forward Party for ฿100 million.

A press conference in mid-March heard the senator strenuously and emotionally deny any involvement with money laundering, drugs or transnational crime.

Move Forward Party’s Rangsiman Rome has been at the centre of allegations surrounding this matter and the subject of court defamation proceedings

Mr Rangsiman was also criticised by senior officials of the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party aligned with Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha when he raised the fact that Senator Upakit owned the land on which the party’s headquarters have been based since August 2022 during a debate on the outgoing government in parliament and called for the circumstances surrounding the ongoing case to be investigated.

PM’s party lashes out at MP Rangsiman Rome’s ‘irresponsible’ revelations in parliament last week

This came about after Senator Upakit’s son-in-law, 38-year-old Mr Dean Young Gultula, the husband of the senator’s daughter Adisara, was arrested in September 2022 and later appeared in court in December 2022 under heavy security charged with similar offences along with Myanmar tycoon and junta business associate Tun Min Latt.

฿200 million in assets seized and frozen after police raids in Bangkok in September linked with Myanmar’s Tun Min Latt and senator’s son-on-law

The choreographed raids were part of an operation mounted by the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) and the Metropolitan Police Bureau in which over ฿200 million in assets were seized or frozen.

Police chief orders probe into police officers who sought a rescinded arrest warrant for a sitting senator
Shock police probe into drug dealing and money laundering linked with Myanmar to strain ties
Senator Upakit met Narcotics Bureau investigators pursuing money laundering enquiries against him

Senator Upakit has consistently denied any links with that case but it is understood police and prosecutors are investigating the use of a network of companies to channel the proceeds of criminal activity while the company network also has links to Thailand’s electricity generation industry.

Evidence linking the Myanmar conglomerate tycoon and junta associated with family members of Myanmar’s dictator and strongman Min Aung Hlaing

There was evidence discovered in September and in the course of this investigation including surveillance, showing links between Mr Tun Min Latt and family members of Myanmar’s de facto dictator and strongman General Min Aung Hlaing currently fighting a civil war with a growing majority of that country’s population supporting a progressively more violent revolt since February 2021 when the military toppled the elected government there in a coup d’état.

The senator, if a decision is ultimately made to prosecute him, faces extraordinary punishment from the courts because of his unique position of responsibility.

Under Thailand’s Transnational Criminal Organisation Act 2013, if convicted, he will face twice the normal penalty for the offences.

Electricity supply to the gambling mecca of Tachileik

In March, an emotional Senator Upakit insisted on his innocence. He explained that his affairs and business interests were quite complex.

Senator Upakit has never denied that he was known to Mr Tun Min Latt who he has described as an honest and honourable businessman in his own experience.

However, he denied the ties were close after the Burmese man’s arrest in September 2022.

The two are understood to be involved in an electricity supply business which has a relationship across Thailand’s border with Myanmar particularly concerning the supply of power to the notorious Myanmar gambling and nightlife mecca of Tachileik, an urban centre near the Thai border.

Nonetheless, Senator Upakit is adamant he was never involved in illicit activities or transactions linked with the Myanmar tycoon now held on remand in a Thai prison.

In March, he told reporters that if he had been able to wield undue influence because of his position as a senator, his son-in-law would not have been arrested by police. 

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Further reading:

Senator Upakit met Narcotics Bureau investigators pursuing money laundering enquiries against him

Police chief orders probe into police officers who sought a rescinded arrest warrant for a sitting senator

PM’s party lashes out at MP Rangsiman Rome’s ‘irresponsible’ revelations in parliament last week

Corruption and the role of the unelected Senate in electing the next PM to be General Election issues

Shock police probe into drug dealing and money laundering linked with Myanmar to strain ties