Legal case against 10 senior police officers accused of extorting benefits and bribes from the owners of an illegal website appears to be proceeding as officers defend themselves including a high-profile visit on Thursday by Chonburi policemen to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) where they claimed they were being treated unfairly by the investigating team based in Bangkok. Further decisive developments are expected early next week.

Arrests are due next week linked to the case against 10 senior police officers accused of extorting bribes from the owners of the highly lucrative illegal gambling website ‘Foxbet 168’ which was raided on May 23rd last. This was confirmed on Thursday by Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn who has defended the conduct of a police task force which has charged those involved. It comes after three of the officers from police stations in Chonburi met with senior officials of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) to file a complaint under the 2022 anti-torture and forced disappearances legislation which imposes a duty on the police to report the detention of any suspect to local prosecutors immediately so that the investigation can be supervised and abuse prevented. A legal representative of the officers has raised concerns about the conduct of the investigation while one of the defendants claims to have only been doing his duty when called to account.

Two officers with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau, Police Colonel Damrongsak Onta and Lieutenant Colonel Pathompong Meeyu, on Friday, filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption and Misconduct Division against the Superintendent of Khu Khot Police Station in Pathum Thani who accepted the criminal complaint filed by the owners of the illegal website Foxbet 168 raided on May 23rd last on or before June 12th last. The complaint, verified within days by a powerful police task force in Bangkok, has seen ten senior officers charged, including the Provincial Police Chief of Chonburi and the two officers with the national agency investigating cyber crimes.

On Thursday, three senior Royal Thai Police officers from Chonburi filed a complaint with the Investigation Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) concerning a case last week involving allegations and charges against 10 police officers who stand accused of offences ranging from Section 157, Section 149 and Section 309 of the Criminal Code.

Section 157 deals with neglect or wrongful performance of duty while Section 149 is in respect of receiving a bribe while Section 309 involves extortion.

The case was revealed at length on Sunday the 18th of June by Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn who is coordinating a task force responding to complaints made by the owners of a large illegal gambling site who claimed that they were coerced into paying ฿85 million in bribes and faced demands for a further ฿55 million before making a complaint to police in Pathum Thani nearly two weeks ago.

Latest corruption exposé to emerge related to the Royal Thai Police which now pervades both provincial police forces and the elite national agencies

The site had a working capital of at least ฿100 million and is thought to have generated billions of baht in profits for its owners due to the current boom in illicit online gambling in Thailand.

Officers warned of a thin line between crime and policing as the force confronts website extortion case

It is the latest corruption exposé to beset the force and is linked to an exploding series of reports and controversies with police being linked with online criminality.

It is understood that the three policemen were joined by the two officers working with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau and other senior police implicated in the case may also make submissions to the AG’s office.

Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau officers ask for an investigation by anti-corruption unit against Super who accepted the original criminal complaint

In the latest twist in the case, senior officers with the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau Police Colonel Damrongsak Onta and Lieutenant Colonel Pathompong Meeyu, on Friday, submitted a complaint to the investigators at the Anti-Corruption and Misconduct Division.

The target of their complaint is the Superintendent of Khu Khot Police Station in Pathum Thani, a police colonel who last weekend was declared blameless for his part in the scandal by National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn.

It is understood that the station chief accepted the original complaint alleging extortion against the Chonburi police officers including Police Major General Kamphon Leelaprapaporn, the provincial police chief and the other officers at a national level, in the days running up to June 12th which is when the illegal website owners were confirmed to have already fled the kingdom.

The officers claims that the station superintendent was wrong in accepting the complaint against them alleging that it may have been an offence under Section 157 of the Criminal Code, a wrongful performance of duty or even bullying.

The two officers have also joined the suit against the task force lodged on Thursday by three Chonburi police officers and alleged that the investigative process has been flawed and unfair to their reputations.

Chonburi policemen met with senior officials of the Attorney-General (OAG) on Thursday for about an hour related to a new law to protect detained suspects

Two of the three officers concerned were identified as Police Captain Somboon Buddhalert, Deputy Inspector of Plutaluang Police Station and Police Lieutenant Colonel Sathien Ratchapongthai, the Deputy Superintendent of Police at Nong Kham Police Station.

The stations are both in Chonburi where the police chief, Police Major Kamphon Leelaprapaporn, has also been charged.

The complaint filed by the accused officers on Thursday was made under the new Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act signed into law in October 2022.

Under the law’s Section 31 paragraph 3 which was cited by the policemen and legal advisers on their behalf, investigating officers in Thailand are duty-bound to report cases involving arrested individuals to the Public Prosecutor’s Office so that the agency can oversee any investigation and ensure that the suspects are treated fairly, not subjected to abuse and fully accounted for at all times during the detention process.

The relevant paragraph reads: ‘When a case is under investigation by other agencies which are not the public prosecutor, the in-charge inquiry official shall inform the public prosecutor of the details of the case for them to promptly help monitor and supervise the investigation.’

Officials promised to gather evidence and act appropriately as officers claimed unfair treatment, not clear however if new law applies in this case yet

On Thursday, the police officers concerned were reported to have met with senior officials of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) including Mr Kulthanit Mongkolsawat, the Director General of the Office of Investigation, Mr Kosolwat Intuchanyong Deputy Spokesman of the Office of the Attorney General and Mr Watcharin Panurat, Deputy Director General of the Office of Investigation.

The officials concerned promised to collect further evidence concerning the petition submitted by the police officers and to take legal action where appropriate.

All three Chonburi officers claimed that they had not been treated fairly in the course of the investigation which was launched urgently following the criminal complaint made by the owners of the illegal website ‘Foxbet 168’ operated by Mr Veera Nasab or ‘Boy’ and Mr Phisit Nakhisornpanee, also known by his nickname ‘Pae’.

The officers who submitted a complaint to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) on Thursday suggesting that the relevant investigating authorities had not been notified about the case under the new law.

In response to the submissions made by the accused police officers, Mr Kosolwat of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) told reporters that his office would be seeking further information to verify the substance of the complaints made with a view to taking urgent action on the matter if required. He said that the case was an important one.

Senior Prosecutors Office official said new law applies to suspects who have been arrested or held in detention by investigating police to prevent abuse

Mr Kulthanit of the Prosecutor’s Office said that the law in question applied to suspects arrested by the police which imposed duties on the arresting officers to notify the local prosecutor immediately where those under investigation had been detained. 

The law was designed to make certain that those held by authorities are properly accounted for, and not subject to abuse or cruel or degrading treatment.

Some of the officers linked with the case, on Thursday, after meeting with the senior officials of the Attorney-General (OAG), claimed to simply have been carrying out their duties on May 23rd last when three locations in Bangkok and Nonthaburi were raided by police.

One of these officers was Police Captain Somboon who told reporters that he had simply been carrying out his duties and said he had no knowledge of either seeking or obtaining bribes.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Sathien, another one of the accused, refused to discuss details of the case with reporters citing his duty not to discuss an active case.

Nonetheless, he indicated there was evidence suggesting all three officers were innocent of up to four criminal offences being levelled against them including reports that robbery charges may also be pursued, at least against some of the officers involved.

‘Big Joke’ sanguine about the complaints lodged saying he was happy the officers were exploring their legal rights to defend themselves in the case

Deputy National Police Chief Surachate Hakparn or ‘Big Joke’, when asked about the case and the submission by the accused officers to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), said that over half the ten police officers suspected in the affair had already confessed to his investigators.

The three police officers on Thursday told reporters that they were not aware of anyone who had confessed and one of the accused man’s legal advisors, Mr Bundit Thepyu, emphasised this to reporters.

He said it was unfair to the policemen concerned to be treated this way in public.

He disclosed he would be asking for the investigative team with oversight of the case to be changed.

On Thursday, in response, Police General Surachate Hakparn confirmed that some of the 10 police officers implicated in this case may also be charged with robbery.

He indicated that next week police will seek arrest warrants for individuals involved in the case.

Deputy police chief said many of the officers had already confessed with reports from last weekend saying officers had volunteered information freely

On the comments made by the accused police officers concerning the new torture law, he said he had no issue with those involved seeking to avail themselves of their rights under the law in their defence.

He also noted that the law was new and officers within the Royal Thai Police will take some time to become fully familiar with its requirements.

Last weekend, it was reported that police officers involved in the case had volunteered information to the task force and made confessions particularly those among the lower ranks.

It is also understood that they met the task force at the Police Club in Bangkok by appointment with investigators and while informed of allegations against them, were not placed under arrest or detained.

The legal status of the officers charged remains unclear.

Lawyers for the officers allege that while they may have been technically arrested, the procedure was not regular as it did not involve taking pictures or other key elements of the procedure.

Nine officers acknowledged the allegations

Police General Surachate told reporters that nine of the ten officers had acknowledged the allegations against them including the Chonburi police chief Police Major General Kumphol Leelaprapaporn.

Reporters were told that the arrest of the illegal gambling website owners in May was conducted in a suspicious manner with the suspects originally not taken to their local police stations and an application for an arrest warrant before the courts was withdrawn due to a spy giving false information.

Police General Surachate said the police investigating the case of the illegal gambling site had seen evidence of large sums passing through the bank account of Mr Veera Nasub or ‘Boy’ and that the force was now working with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to seize assets to the value of ฿200 million to ฿300 million.

Hunt on for the extremely wealthy owner of ‘Foxbet 168’ believed to have fled to Singapore leaving assets worth between ฿200 million and ฿300 million

Officers are aware that Mr Veeray or ‘Boy’ left Thailand through Suvarnabhumi Airport for Singapore and an international arrest warrant was being sought.

It is understood that Mr Phisit, also known by his nickname ‘Pae’ has fled the country.

It has also emerged that Mr Pae has been a partner of the notorious Inspector Sua currently on the run outside Thailand and the subject of a huge police probe into an illegal gambling and online empire valued at billions of baht, a case which has already seen over 30 people arrested since February this year.

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

The top police officer underlined again his determination to pursue and prosecute all offenders across the board where wrongdoing is found.

He said that arrest warrants will be issued next week related to the case with further information due to be released on Monday. 

He suggested that the case against the officers up to now has not been one which is subject to the 2022 Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act. 

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Further reading:

Officers warned of a thin line between crime and policing as the force confronts website extortion case

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

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