Former minister indicted for murder of billionaire friend

Former minister indicted for murder of billionaire friend

Banyin Tangpakorn, 54, at the Bangkok South Criminal Court in April this year to testify in the case involving the alleged theft of shares worth 300 million baht from late construction tycoon and short-term friend Chuwong sae Tang. (File photo   by Somchai Poomlard)
Banyin Tangpakorn, 54, at the Bangkok South Criminal Court in April this year to testify in the case involving the alleged theft of shares worth 300 million baht from late construction tycoon and short-term friend Chuwong sae Tang. (File photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Public prosecutors indicted former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn on Thursday, accusing him of the murder of billionaire friend and construction tycoon Chuwong sae Tang after stealing 300-million-baht of his shares in 2015.

Prayut Phetkhun, deputy spokesman of the Office of the Attorney-General, said Pol Lt Col (retired) Banyin was charged with colluding in premeditated murder and colluding in murder for personal gain or to avoid criminal punishment for another wrongdoing. Such offences carry a maximum penalty of death.

Public prosecutors also proposed that any punishment handed down in the case be cumulative on  punishment from another case involving document forgery for the theft of shares.

The Phra Khanong court accepted the case for trial and set the first hearing for July 9. The court released Mr Banyin on him on bail of 2 million baht on condition he not leave the country without prior permission.

Chuwong, 50, was found dead in the front passenger seat of Mr Banyin's Lexus SUV after it crashed into a roadside tree in Prawet district, Bangkok, on June 26, 2015.  Mr Banyin survived the incident unscathed. The vehicle suffered minor damage.

Police at Udomsuk station initially attributed Chuwong's death to the crash. The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) took over the investigation and suspected Mr Banyin of colluding in murder and that the accident was a set up to cover the murder.

The CSD concluded that Chuwong was clubbed to death before the accident. Mr Banyin had invited Chuwong to a round of golf that night.

The murder motive was the fraudulent ownership of a portfolio of shares.

The case involves Mr Banyin, who had known Chuwong since they met during a course at the National Defence College a few years before his death, and three women. One of the women was the broker handling Chuwong's stocks account and suspected of being Mr Banyin's mistress. They are all suspected of stealing 300 million baht worth of Chuwong's shares using forged documents.


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