The latest corruption scandal related to allegations made by the owners of a gambling website known as ‘Foxbet 168’ who say they already paid ฿85 million to the go-betweens acting for senior police officers connected with raids on three locations on May 23rd last in Bangkok and Nonthaburi. The complaint was lodged with Khu Khot Police Station in Pathum Thani over a week ago. All the officers involved have denied any wrongdoing and on Sunday, spoke confidently with the press as they arrived to be interviewed by a police task force in Bangkok.

Deputy National Police Commissioner General Surachate Hakparn or ‘Big Joke’ on Sunday warned that there is a thin line between breaking the law and police work as he vowed to prosecute all officers found to be culpable in a new corruption scandal engulfing the force and involving police officers in Chonburi, Rayong and on a national level, within the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) after the operators of an illegal gambling website ‘Foxbet 168’, which was raided on May 23rd last, claimed that an attempt was made to extort ฿140 million while paying over ฿85 million to avoid legal prosecution. The case is said to have implicated up to 12 police officers including the Provincial Police Chief in Chonburi, Police Major General Kamphon Leelaprapaporn, who was called to explain himself on Sunday. The top Chonburi officer, his subordinates and other officers in the force who were called in for questioning, adamantly protested their innocence in the matter saying they were simply doing their duty.

Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn, also known as ‘Big Joke’ briefed the media, on Sunday, at the Police Club in Bangkok as a task force met with senior police officers by appointment for questioning over a complaint filed by the owner of an illegal gambling website in Pathum Thani over a week ago alleging extortion and corruption. On Sunday also, whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit issued a bulletin to his followers suggesting that the case may be a prelude to further fallout within the Royal Thai Police.

The Royal Thai Police is facing yet another corruption scandal with up to 12 police officers being implicated in a case where illegal operators of a large online gambling website filed an explosive complaint with Khu Khot Police Station in Pathum Thani alleging that senior police officers in the force including the Provincial Police Chief of Chonburi, had demanded bribes totalling ฿140 million after raids on three locations on May 23rd last saw the key operators of the gambling website arrested.

Two people faced prosecution as a result of the raid. They have been identified as Veera Nasab and Phisit Nakhisornpanee, also known by his nickname ‘Pae’.

On Sunday, the officers who were called in for questioning and to hear charges by a task force in Bangkok were confident that they had not broken any laws and were simply carrying out their duties and collecting evidence relating to the illegal website operators.

However, after the meeting between police officer suspects and the task force which was by appointment, it was learned that some officers were facing charges related to the complaint including the Chonburi police chief who, according to sources, faced charges relating to three offences under the Criminal Code.

Gambling website with capital of ฿100 million raided at 3 locations on May 23rd in Bangkok and Nonthaburi, owners paid an alleged ฿85 million bribe

It is understood that the two men controlled the illegal website known as ‘Foxbet 168’ and after their arrest on May 23rd, had paid as much as ฿85 million to an alleged go-between and senior police officers involved in the case until a larger amount of ฿140 million was demanded forcing them to flee the country but not before filing their criminal complaint in Pathum Thani which has led National Police Commissioner General Damrongsak Kittiprapas to launch a full investigation headed up by crisis expert and fixer Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn.

The website is reported to have had working capital of at least ฿100 million.

The gambling site operators are believed to have fled the country sometime on or before June 13th last which was the last time that Mr Veera Nasab also known as ‘Boy Na Sap’ was seen at his Pattaya mansion in the Bang Lamung area of the resort city.

His wife is also believed to have joined him on his flight from Thailand.

Website operators flee the country but not before filing a criminal complaint at a police station in Pathum Thani and with Deputy Police Chief Surachate

Over the weekend, the substantial two-storey residence of 5 rai of land was raided by police and forensic experts where they found only a housekeeper in residence, a quantity of cash linked with a genuine boat repair business and computer hard drives which were seized as evidence.

It is also reported that the victims in the case met with General Surachate in Bangkok to outline the circumstances of the alleged extortion attempt before leaving the country.

On Sunday evening, a stream of senior officers attended the Police Club in Bangkok to meet General Surachate Hakparn and to acknowledge or answer charges being pressed against them after initial enquiries into the matter showed there was substance to the criminal complaint.

It was reported that the Governor of Chonburi also attended the police club given the seriousness of the situation involving senior officers in the province.

Chief of Police in Chonburi implicated in the complaint allegations. Website owners said he was taken to meet the senior officer when he was arrested

Officers implicated in the investigation include 54-year-old Police Major General Kamphon Leelaprapaporn, the Chonburi police chief as well as a superintendent and another top official with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau and senior officers from police stations in Chonburi, Rayong and Pathum Thani.

While speaking to reporters on Sunday, General Surachate wanted to clarify that the Superintendent of Khu Khot police station in Pathum Thani where the gambling site operators filed their complaint was not suspected of any wrongdoing in the matter and had simply been carrying out his duty by addressing the complaint and informing his superiors.

General Surachate made it clear that the operators of the illegal gambling site must be prosecuted in this matter as the police force cannot be seen to condone the operation of illegal businesses in the kingdom.

He confirmed that eight officers had been expected to present themselves on Sunday and would be facing malfeasance and neglect of duty charges under Section 157 of the Criminal Code as well as under Section 149 for being in receipt of or demanding bribes.

The police chief in Chonburi was also understood to be facing a charge under Section 309.

This offence involves coercion with special consideration for committing the offence using documentation and as part of a criminal association leaving anyone convicted open to a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment before the courts.

Officers face possible dismissal from force and government service as well as potential fraud charges as investigations open into extortion reports

The top cop also known as ‘Big Joke’ said that there may also be criminal charges relating to fraud as well as disciplinary proceedings ordered by the national police chief.

He said it would be up to General Damrongsak, in due course, to see whether the officers should be dismissed from the force and government service while criminal charges were being prosecuted.

The senior officer warned all police officers in the Royal Thai Police that any infraction or illegal activity will be prosecuted no matter what the circumstances saying if members of the force crossed the line, there was no going back.

He said even with policemen who were known to him or ‘brothers’, would be prosecuted without fear or favour. He asked the officers involved not to bear anger or malice against him. 

He assured those involved that he was just doing his duty and following the law while trying to be fair to all parties.

Thin line between officers breaking the law and doing their duty explains Big Joke as yet another corruption scandal emerges for the Royal Thai Police

General Surachate observed that there was a thin line between police work and potential criminal activity which had to be guarded against.

He warned that any failure by the force to prosecute every person implicated in such affairs no matter what the fallout, would have major consequences explaining that senior police officers had a responsibility to think of the hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file members of the force and the potential loss of faith among the public.

It’s a hard station for Thai police and foreigners should understand better the job they do to keep order

He said that an Interpol Red notice would be issued for the gambling site operators who, it is believed, have fled to a neighbouring country.

Chonburi police boss appeared ready to defend himself against allegations made by the illegal website owners, said he would report to the commissioner

As he prepared to meet officers involved in the investigation, the under-fire Chonburi police chief Police Major General Kamphol said he would address the complaint made against him and offer clarification to the National Police Commissioner General Damrongsak.

The potentially explosive case which is already understood to have led to a chain reaction of complaints related to other cases linked with Chonburi Police and what Bangkok-based whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit describes as a power game within the Royal Thai Police began at 1 pm on May 23rd last with three police raids in Bangkok and Nonthaburi.

Mr Thaninnwat or ‘Pae’ was subsequently brought to Chonburi where he alleges he was introduced to the Provincial Police Chief.

He was offered a way out of the hot water he was in or an opportunity to avoid prosecution, according to his account, provided he wrote on a piece of paper how much he could pay.

Complaint detailed how website owners paid ฿85 million for their freedom and stayed charges after being arrested on May 23rd last in a series of raids

The website operator alleges that he was introduced to a middleman known as Mr Phisit who demanded ฿120 million.

Eventually, a figure of ฿65 million was agreed and paid but in short order, Mr Phisit demanded a further ฿20 million for his services in the affair.

Mr Pae said his partner Mr Veera was also made aware of this proposition and while in custody he was able to speak to his business partner who told him to ‘Stay cool. Everything is sorted out. Just pay the money’.

The initial ฿65 million was paid and Mr Thaninwat was released from custody on May 24th having first been transferred to Saen Suk Police Station on Chonburi where the provincial police chief also reportedly attended.

He subsequently paid a further ฿20 million in cash at two separate locations in Pathum Thani and Chiang Rai.

Gambling website owners could not meet the corrupt and predatory demands for more money reported to be approximately ฿140 million or ฿55 million more

It is understood that when further demands for more money to be paid were made, the online gambling site operators decided they could not meet the extortionate demands and in frustration, opted to file their criminal complaint.

On Thursday, June 15th, it is reported that General Surachate personally attended the Chonburi headquarters where he secured evidence collected from CCTV servers in the building which tended to confirm the complaint against senior police.

Over the weekend, in a cryptic post alluding to power struggles within the Royal Thai Police, Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit told his followers that the extent of the money available to pay off police reaching figures in the hundreds of millions of baht means that the problem of corruption cannot be tackled in Thailand without introducing a law which treats wrongdoers who are extorted in this way by the police as victims.

Such a legal provision would be very difficult to draft and implement without potentially undermining the whole basis of the criminal legal system and the ability to prosecute criminal activity through potential abusive manoeuvres although one criminal law expert suggests that something along these lines may be possible by giving discretionary powers to prosecutors or the police chief on a case by case basis and subject to oversight, allowing for plea deals in specifics cases where egregious corruption is exposed and confirmed within the ranks of the police.

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here
Follow Thai Examiner here

Further reading:

Mystery ฿6 million to be traced after Chuwit outwits detractors again by calling in the police to investigate

Top Royal Thai Police officers under scrutiny over links to huge illegal online gambling cash flows

Police admit bribe was paid by Taiwanese actress in Bangkok but say she should have been arrested

Confidence and trust in Thailand damaged by Chinese VIP tourist services advertised online

Viral Chinese video says VIP arrival with a police escort can be bought when holidaying in Thailand

US and Thai agencies forge closer ties as cabinet tackles corruption within the Royal Thai Police national ranks

Royal Thai Police Sergeant Major arrested on Ko Samui, charged with the rape of female detainee