Relatives seek PM’s help for Thais arrested in Angola

Relatives seek PM’s help for Thais arrested in Angola

Raveeroj Rithchoteanan of Centennial Energy (Thailand) Co. (Photo taken from Raveeroj Rithchoteanan instagram)
Raveeroj Rithchoteanan of Centennial Energy (Thailand) Co. (Photo taken from Raveeroj Rithchoteanan instagram)

Relatives of four Thai people arrested in the southwest African country of Angola almost six months ago on charges of fraud, money laundering and document falsification have petitioned Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to provide them with legal assistance.

The petition was lodged at the Government House Centre for Public Service on Tuesday by three women. They included Thiwaporn Wannaro, representing relatives of the four Thais. 

On Feb 21, police in Angola three men and a woman -  Raveeroj Rithchoteanan and Ms Monthita Pribwai, both authorised directors of Centennial Energy (Thailand) Co, and company employees Theera Buapeng and Manin Wanitcha. They are being held in a prison in Luanda, the Angolan capital. 

Ms Thiwaporn said the four travelled to Angola to sign an investment deal with a local firm there. The joint venture was to enter into a public private partnership contract with the Angolan government for basic infrastructure and social development schemes. 

The four took with them a cheque for US$50 billion for the investment, Ms Thiwaporn said. The money was deposited in an account newly opened with a local bank. 

However, the four were later arrested by Angola officials from O Servico de Investicacao Criminal (The Criminal Investigation Service), who accused them of falsifying documents, including cheques and certifications, fraud and  money laundering, she said. 

Relatives were unable to contact Angolan authorities as Angola and Thailand have no relations at ambassadorial or consular level. 

The relatives and the firm were worried about their safety if they remained locked up without outside help and without legal representation, Ms Thiwaporn said. 

She wanted the prime minister and relevant agencies to help out in terms of seeking lawyers, interpreters and bail for them. 

Local police, prosecutors or judges should be contacted and negotiations begun, so the four could be relesed on bail as quickly as possible, she said. 

It was difficult to communicate with officials in Angola, where the official language is Portuguese, she added.

According to its website, Centennial Energy Thailand is a "Bangkok based international multi-billion dollar project investment and development firm which provides funding for large scale development and humanitarian projects for developing countries aiming to create high quality infrastructure, energy generation, transportation networks and so forth". The chairman is named as Raveeroj Rithchoteanan.

There is no information about the foundation said to be associated with the company, nor any details about the projects it claims to be associated with.

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