Ufun fraudsters sentenced to thousands of years

Ufun fraudsters sentenced to thousands of years

Natee Teerarojanapong, a former advocate of gay rights, arrives at the Criminal Court on a prison bus on Wednesday morning. He was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison as a conspirator in the Ufun online store pyramid scheme.(Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Natee Teerarojanapong, a former advocate of gay rights, arrives at the Criminal Court on a prison bus on Wednesday morning. He was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison as a conspirator in the Ufun online store pyramid scheme.(Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Criminal Court on Wednesday handed down prison terms totalling 12,265 to 12,267 years to 22 people convicted over the online pyramid scheme operated by Ufun Store, which conned about 120,000 people out of more than 20 billion baht.

However, their actual imprisonment under the law will be a maximum 20 and 50 years each.

On July 13, 2015 prosecutors charged Apiratch Saenkla, Sirichok Siriwannapha, a former member of the Chartthaipattana Party, Natee Teerarojanapong, an advocate of gay rights, and 40 others with violation of the 2013 Transnational Organised Crime Prevention and Suppression Act, and embezzlement under the 2002 Direct Selling and Direct Marketing Act.

In its judgement on Wednesday, the court found 22 of the 43 defendants guilty. Each was sentenced to cumulative terms on multiple counts. Natee will serve 20 years. The remaining 21, including Mr Sirichok, were acquitted due to insufficient evidence. The suspects has been held at the Bangkok Remand Prison and the Central Women's Correctional Institution.

The court also fined the 42nd defendant, U Trading Co, 1.22 billion baht and ordered that it refund 2,451 victims the combined amount of 356.21 million baht plus 7.5% interest per annum. 

Ufun was registered to run an online business for its members as a direct-sales company. It was declared a pyramid scheme - a fraudulent investment structured to funnel money put in by new investors back to earlier participants, who have an incentive to bring more people into the scheme.

 

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