The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) has returned confiscated valuables and cash worth 16 million baht to a gold shop owner in Narathiwat who was earlier suspected of financially aiding southern insurgents.
Suriyan Pongmanawut, owner of Thong Phusuwan gold shop in Sungai Padi district of Narathiwat, went to Amlo to reclaim his seized assets, accompanied by his lawyer Winit Narathippapat.
Amlo officials, soldiers and police raided his shop on March 10, seizing gold items and cash worth about 16 million baht.
Mr Winit yesterday said that as public prosecutors had decided not to indict Mr Suriyan on money laundering charges, Amlo was legally obligated to return the assets to his client.
Mr Suriyan was charged with laundering money acquired illegally through drugs, and using the funds to support insurgents' operations to create unrest in the three southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.
After a major drug dealer and an associate were arrested in Tak Bai district, it was claimed the associate took Malaysian ringgit from the drug dealer and exchanged it at Mr Suriyan's gold shop.
The shop was searched by the authorities, with informants working for Amlo claiming that some of Mr Suriyan's valuables and cash might have been obtained through insurgent connections.
Mr Suriyan said he wanted to seek justice and to clear his family name.
He said he felt deeply upset by being linked to money laundering and the southern insurgency.
"Such allegations have shattered my dignity," Mr Suriyan said.
Mr Winit said a few items had gone missing when his client came to collect the assets yesterday, but they were not of much value. The lawyer said Amlo has promised to trace the missing items and return them to Mr Suriyan.
About the author
- Writer: Waedao Harai