Big Joke urged to resign amid scandal that has enveloped him. Pundit Jatuporn Prompan advises a career shift after preliminary guilty finding by the PM’s panel and an arrest warrant. Thailand’s top cop faces dire career prospects as an extended legal battle looms. Further shocking revelations in the Royal Thai Police corruption saga expected as activist lawyer Sittra Biebangkerd digs further.

Top current affairs pundit in Bangkok and former Redshirt leader Jatuporn Prompan, this weekend, advised embattled senior police officer General Surachate Hakparn to resign from government service. Mr Jatuporn advised the popular police officer to enter politics. It comes after a disastrous week for the top cop. On Tuesday, a court issued an arrest warrant for him related to money laundering. In turn, this was followed at the end of the week by another blow. That was when General Winai Thongsong, the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s investigative panel declared him guilty of money laundering in a preliminary report.

Former redshirt political activist turned TV pundit Jatuporn Prompan (right), on Friday, urged General Surachate Hakparn, the under-fire deputy police chief, to resign. It follows a disastrous week for General Surachate or ‘Big Joke’ following an arrest warrant being issued against him by a Bangkok court and a prime ministerial panel pronouncing him guilty of money laundering.

General Surachate has found himself in the vortex of a huge police corruption scandal. Certainly, his lawyers and others investigating the scandal, suggest he is innocent. Indeed, his lawyers claim a campaign to discredit him is at the root of his problems.

However, Mr Jatuporn, on Friday, warned the deputy police chief that the criminal case against him may take seven years to finalise. In the meantime, disciplinary proceedings against the top cop may ultimately end his career.

Certainly, it has been an extraordinary and bad week for Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn. The warrant issued by the Criminal Court for his arrest on Tuesday may well have sealed his fate as regards his future career with the Royal Thai Police.

Big Joke immediately surrendered to investigating police at Tao Poon Police Station in Bangkok on Tuesday but his career may already be over says Jatuporn

In making the order at an extended hearing on Tuesday afternoon, the court’s comments exacerbated matters for the policeman. 

In short, it said it was satisfied there was a significant case for General Surachate to answer.

The devastating result saw General Surachate or ‘Big Joke’ surrender himself within minutes on Tuesday. This was to investigating officers led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Sarawut Buddee at Tao Poon Police Station in Bangkok.

The case against General Surachate had been pursued by officers at the Bangkok police station since February. 

This followed a complaint lodged by deputy Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief, Police Major General Jaroonkiat Pankaew, in February.

The day before, lawyer Sittra Biebangkerd or ‘Lawyer Tum’ filed a complaint against General Torsak Sukwimol, the police chief at the same station. 

It followed a presentation of evidence to Police Major General Jaroonkiat the week before by the activist lawyer. 

Last Saturday, March 30, lawyers for General Torsak withdrew a defamation case against Lawyer Tum to allow him to pursue his complaint.

Big Joke released on bail. Emerged to speak briefly to reporters at 8 pm. Top cop appeared at ease, relaxed
Big shock: Arrest warrant issued by court in Bangkok against Big Joke or General Surachate Hakparn
Police chief withdraws defamation case to allow a full and open probe by investigators into his affairs

Previously, the acting police chief raised the issue of General Surachate reporting for disciplinary action following his arrest.

Further blow on Friday when PM’s panel Chairman General Winai Thongsong in a preliminary finding, declared General Surachate guilty of money laundering

However, on Friday, the situation deteriorated further for Big Joke or General Surachate. It came as the Chairman of a police panel appointed by the Prime Minister on March 20th came out to implicate him in money laundering.

Police General Winai Thongsong gave a preliminary update on his panel’s probe.

It was unquestionably bad news for Big Joke. General Winai suggested that his investigation was supportive of the Criminal Court’s earlier decision.

Bangkok police still targeting Big Joke over BNK Master website case. Arrest warrant considered

In short, General Surachate may well have been involved in money laundering. 

The former policeman said he was satisfied that this was so. 

In addition, he said the General Surachate benefitted at least partially from payments made from the BNK Master website. General Winai went further and said General Surachate was aware of such arrangements.

The now-retired senior police officer said his work has been expedited due to the legwork undertaken by officers at Bangkok’s Tao Poon Police Station.

Nonetheless, he insisted his conclusions did not rely on this evidence.

General Surachate, General Torsak and others can now submit a detailed written explanation before an April 30th deadline as the enquiry moves to a report

The panel has now invited all parties including both General Surachate and suspended National Police Chief General Torsak Sukwimol to submit their sides of the story in writing. The deadline for this is April 30th.

Big Joke survives an alleged effort to discredit him. PM appoints temporary police chief and enquiry panel

General Winai says his panel will complete its duties within the 60-day timeframe given by the PM. However, it will firstly report on claims against General Surachate Hakparn.

Previously, Big Joke denied the allegations against him At the same time, his lawyers have openly described a concerted campaign to discredit him. In brief, they say too many people wish to frustrate his ambition to lead the Royal Thai Police.

Indeed, a key witness was brought by Mr Sittra on Friday to Tao Poon Police Station.

Ms Pimwalai is the key person, recruited by a friend to disperse the money flows from the BNK Master website. On Friday, Ms Pimwalai told police she was unaware of the source of the funds.

She was paid ฿20,000 per month and dispersed money on a monthly basis. 

Witness at the heart of the BNK Master money laundering case went with Lawyer Tum or Sittra Biebangkerd to meet case investigators in Bangkok, on Friday

These funds were transferred to nominee accounts. All such accounts were one step removed from the police network and key officers.

On Friday, Mr Sittra insisted that one of these accounts was for the benefit of General Torsak Sukwimol, the sidelined police chief and his wife. Similarly, one was destined for the cybercrime police and others for key police officers.

This is the same corruption exposed by lawyers for General Surachate on Tuesday, March 19th.

On that date, his lawyers said it implicated over 30 senior police officers. However, they insisted that General Surachate was not a key beneficiary.

Since Friday and General Winai’s intervention, more detailed information is coming to light. 

It centres on alleged money laundering activities involving high-ranking police officers. The case involving nominee accounts or ‘horse’ accounts is a complex one.

Despite massive public interest in this story, the public can easily become confused or lose interest.

Similar scandals in Western countries would see either congressional or judicial panels of enquiry probing the matter.

Undoubtedly the implications of this scandal for confidence in the rule of law would justify a similar move in Thailand.

Lawyer Tum on Friday pointed out the nature of the evidence and the corruption allegations against over 30 police officers. Big Joke was not a beneficiary

On Friday, Layer Tum or Mr Sittra Biebangkerd warned that these funds could easily have reached anyone within the Royal Thai Police because of personal contacts within the force.

This was because of the large network of payments benefiting reportedly 34 people directly. Indeed the overwhelming majority of these were senior police officers.

On Tuesday, March 19th, lawyers for General Surachate adamantly insisted that he was not one of the key beneficiaries. At least, not in relation to this disbursement network.

In effect, this is the crux of the matter.

On the other hand, both the Criminal Court and now General Winai, the panel Chairman reporting to the PM, are saying otherwise.

The case involving Police General Surachate, also known as ‘Big Joke,’ and Police General Torsak, nicknamed ‘Big Tor,’ has captured public attention.

At length, it has raised unprecedented concern about endemic corruption within the Royal Thai Police.

Broader allegations of corruption made by Mr Sittra extend well beyond the BNK Master gambling website case. The claims suggest an internal police mafia

In addition, it is not the first time such corruption has been exposed although not on this scale.

Significantly also, Mr Sittra is claiming more widespread corruption spanning the entire country.

His recent claims are of an alternative police organisation dispersing ฿100 million per month in kickbacks.

Unprecedented crisis for the Royal Thai Police as Srettha baulks despite lawyer’s damning claims of corruption

The BNK Master scandal is only one network within this alleged internal police mafia.

Police General Winai Thongsong, the committee member of the special Police Panel appointed by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, however, this week appeared decisive.

He revealed the preliminary findings of the investigation.

General Winai decisively declared, on Friday, that Deputy Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn was guilty of the money laundering claims made in court

According to Police General Winai, the probe committee found Police General Surachate guilty of money laundering connected to online gambling activities.

Undoubtedly, this stark revelation has serious implications for the top cop’s career and future within the police force.

Mr Jatuporn Prompan is a prominent figure in Thai politics.

Jailed on numerous occasions for his involvement in the Redshirt movement, he has become an uncannily accurate political pundit. In short, an expert on Thai affairs. He works for the Thai Rath publication and regularly broadcasts on social media channels.

In brief, he turned his attention, this week, to the case of General Surachate. 

Big Joke is a popular figure among Thais and was long seen as an anti-corruption policeman.

Nonetheless, Mr Jatuporn, who knows how power plays work in Thailand, was bleak about General Surachate’s future.

In short, he suggested that the top cop should consider resigning from his government position. He advised Big Joke to take up politics.

He emphasised the importance of making the right decision to avoid further legal complications and disciplinary action.

Big Joke urged to resign from the force as the case against him could take up to seven years to finalise. In the meantime, he faces a disciplinary process

For instance, Mr Jatuporn noted that the criminal case against General Surachate may take up to seven years to finalise.

In the meantime, his time as a police officer will have expired. By resigning, General Surachate would avoid a disciplinary process which is presently gearing up against him.

Additionally, Mr Jatuporn highlighted the need for urgent reform within the Royal Thai Police.

He said it called for both courage and honesty from Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin who is Chairman of the Police Commission. Drastic action was required to redeem shattered public confidence and trust in the force.

The former Chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and MP, was particularly concerned about police morale.

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

Certainly, he urged the government to consider the rank and file. Over 200,000 officers work on the force. In truth, the majority are not corrupt and work hard for the public to keep law and order.

‘The results of the examination, Police General Winai stated, show that Big Joke is guilty of money laundering. It shows that the signal is the same. From the police issuing a summons followed by an arrest warrant. Therefore, Big Joke’s chance of reaching the Police Commander seat is certainly now more difficult. He should think about whether to continue fighting or retreat because of the criminal case now before the court. There will be a disciplinary examination following. And next, there will be an order to stay or be released from government service. For this reason, the preliminary examination result serves as a warning for (Big Joke’s) decision-making,’ explained Mr Jatuporn.

Jatuporn described last week’s sudden panel finding against him as a warning to General Surachate not to prolong a contentious fight over the issues at hand

Meanwhile, Police General Torsak Sukwimon’s involvement in the case is still under investigation.

Although his tenure as a police officer is limited, Mr Jatuporn suggested that Police General Torsak’s future might be less risky compared to Police General Surachate’s. 

However, the outcome of the investigation remains uncertain, and further developments are awaited.

The investigation into the alleged money laundering scheme has been meticulous. At length, it involves a multitude of people and extensive evidence gathering. The probe committee’s initial findings confirm suspicions of financial impropriety.

This is reported to include a money trail from online gambling to bank accounts associated with Police General Surachate.

However, additional evidence is still required to substantiate these claims fully. In addition, General Surachate may want to explain the context of any suspected payments.

General Winai was quite certain at Friday’s press briefing

However, on Friday, General Winai appeared to be more than convinced. He spoke at a press briefing for reporters.

Mr Jatuporn suggested the preliminary findings of this panel should be a warning sign to General Surachate. It was a message to the deputy police chief not to continue fighting

‘Police General Winai explained the preliminary results of the Big Joke investigation. It is a warning to be aware that, in the end, the answer was not wrong. He is involved in money laundering. So it sends a signal to think carefully. So don’t start a war that you have no chance of winning.’

Mr Jatuporn was also clear that the current scandal is a challenge to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

‘When the prime minister sees a problem, he must dare to change the country’s problems for the better. This is different from changing words. Because that is called honesty.’

Sittra Biebangkerd held a press conference after meeting Bangkok police last Friday. He appeared confident in the case against suspended police chief General Torsak

Meanwhile, Mr Sittra Biebangkerd, also known as ‘Lawyer Tum,’ continues to play a crucial role in this corruption saga.

On Friday, he unveiled the financial routes linked to the gambling website ‘BNK MASTER’ to investigators at Tao Poon Police Station in Bangkok.

He outlined its connection to high-ranking police officers including suspended police chief General Torsak.

His efforts to provide evidence and expose the truth have been commendable. Last week, he was urged by sincere police sources to be careful of the information he divulges to the media.

In short, there was a threat to the lawyer’s safety.

On Friday, he gave a hastily improvised press conference in a car park or public area.

‘Today we coordinated to provide information. Links to financial routes for many police departments. Especially the account of Mr Kachachan which is a horse account related to Police General Torsak and his wife involved. In addition, it was found that ฿1 million per month was transferred to the cyber police, including the identity of the person involved in paying the police at the Special Operations Division or Police Commandos. For whom are the people involved?,’ asked Mr Sittra.

Nevertheless, the complexity of the case demands that all involved are treated fairly and openly.

After his arrest on Tuesday and subsequently receiving bail, General Surachate insisted on his innocence under Thai law. In addition, so too are all other parties.

Key witness Ms Pimwilai came to Tao Poon Police Station in Bangkok to tell investigators how she administered the funds linked to the illegal gambling site

Accompanying Mr Sittra on Friday at Ta Poon Police Station were key people who are crucial to this case.

This now centres around cash flow from the BNK Master gambling website.

One key person was Ms Pimwilai, the administrative assistant who was employed to disperse the monies and account for them.

She told police she was oblivious as to the source of the funds. She was recruited to the job by a friend at a salary of ฿20,000 per month.

On Friday, she told police officers she was coming forward to reveal the truth. She understood she may possibly face prosecution. In turn, she had brought her lawyer, Mr Sanyawee Sasutham with her to meet the police. 

He confirmed that his client was acting without duress and was aware of the real danger she was exposed to.

However, he insisted that there was no real reason to prosecute his client. She was just doing her job.

Ms Pimwilai concerned for her own safety

Ms Pimwilai, however, did not deny she worried for her safety. At the same time, she revealed she knew none of the police officers supposed to have been involved, personally.

Certainly, after the scandal erupted, she had called her friend who secured the job for her. She gave the person a piece of her mind.

Curiously, she could not remember exactly how long she had been employed in the role.

She made it clear that she never attempted to coerce or blackmail any party linked to her work. She was simply a functionary being paid to carry out administrative tasks.

In turn, she confirmed that the information provided by her and Mr Sittra Biebangkerd was factual. Additionally, this could be supported by financial documentation and evidence.

She said that the truth could be seen clearly from the evidence.

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Further reading:

Big Joke released on bail. Emerged to speak briefly to reporters at 8 pm. Top cop appeared at ease, relaxed

Big shock: Arrest warrant issued by court in Bangkok against Big Joke or General Surachate Hakparn

Unprecedented crisis for the Royal Thai Police as Srettha baulks despite lawyer’s damning claims of corruption

Bangkok police still targeting Big Joke over BNK Master website case. Arrest warrant considered

Big Joke survives an alleged effort to discredit him. PM appoints temporary police chief and enquiry panel

Big Joke’s police career on the brink as police chief threatens to suspend the high profile top cop from job

Top cop Big Joke fights for his name as summons rumours swirl around him over gambling site network

Top cop Big Joke’s career suffers setback as Torsak gets top job after Police Commission meeting