Actor arrested for alleged B797m bitcoin investment fraud

Actor arrested for alleged B797m bitcoin investment fraud

Police inform actor Jiratpisit
Police inform actor Jiratpisit "Boom" Jaravijit, 27, (second left) of a warrant for his arrest at Major Cineplex Ratchayothin in Chatuchak district, Bangkok, on Wednesday. (Police photo)

Police arrested actor Jiratpisit "Boom" Jaravijit, 27, in Chatuchak district on Wednesday for alleged money-laundering following a complaint that he fraudulently lured a foreigner into investing 797 million baht in digital currency.

Mr Jiratpisit, a native of Chon Buri province, was arrested while he was at Major Cineplex Ratchayothin complex for a film-shoot. The Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on July 26 on a charge of collusion in money-laundering.

The actor is one of seven suspects in the alleged fraud. Earlier police received a complaint that they had lured a foreigner into transferring money in the form of bitcoins to them in the belief they would buy shares in companies that invested in the digital Dragon Coin currency.

The complainant told police at the Crime Suppression Division that bitcoins equivalent to 797 million baht were transferred to the suspects' electronic wallets. The complainant never received any dividends from the claimed companies or any invitation to their shareholders' meetings.

It was also alleged the "companies" did not invest in Dragon Coin and the suspects always sidestepped questions when asked what was happening.

The actor denied the charge.

The complainant was later identified as Finnish national Aarni Otava Saarimaa, who police said got to know the suspects in June last year.

Crime Suppression Division commander Maitree Chimcherd said it was alleged Mr Jiratpisit and his elder brother Parinya Jaravijit had defrauded Mr Saarimaa and later transferred stolen money to relatives.

Police obtained warrants for the arrest of Mr Parinya and Supitcha Jaravijit, elder sister of the actor, and would seek warrants for four other suspects who were well-known businessmen at the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Pol Maj Gen Maitree said the actor’s family were of good social and financial standing and ran a restaurant in Chon Buri. The other suspects were all abroad and some suspects would be charged with public fraud later.

His deputy, Pol Col Chakrit Sawasdee, said the suspects had approached Mr Saarimaa after learning that he had a large amount of bitcoins.

Mr Jiratpisit transferred about 400 million baht of the money to his siblings and the money was loaned out with land as collateral. Officials had impounded assets worth about 200 million baht, Pol Col Chakrit said.

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