DSI to take over 'Mae Manee' probe
The Royal Thai Police (RTP) will hand over its investigation into the controversial "Mae Manee" Ponzi scheme to the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) on Thursday next week, as the number of people claiming to be victims rose above 4,000.
"It will be handled by DSI's Bureau of Illegal Financial and Business Crimes once the case files are transferred to us on Nov 14," said bureau director, Piyasiri Wattanavarangkul. Mr Piyasiri vowed to follow the evidence and money trail to find Mae Manee recruiters who had offered or quoted returns which are higher than Thai financial laws permit. "Then, we will separate the recruiters and the victims for questioning," he said.
Mr Piyasiri also said investigators will expand the probe to see whether there were any celebrities connected to and/or were profiting from the scheme. "Once the culprits have been apprehended, charged and convicted, authorities will confiscate their assets and auction them off the repay the victims," he said.
That said, Mr Piyasiri said the process will be "lengthy and time-consuming", before adding that victims will not get all of the money they had put into the scheme back. He said his office will ask the Udon Thani provincial court to transfer Wantanee "Mae Manee" Tippaveth, 28 to DSI custody in Bangkok for cross-examination.
Ms Wantanee and her boyfriend, Metee Chinpa, 20, were arrested in Chon Buri late last week. Deputy Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 4, Pol Maj Gen Yanyong Wej-osoth, said three people who acted as recruiters were also arrested in Udon Thani. From the recruiters, police confiscated cash totalling five million baht, gold ornaments weighing ten baht, and two diamond rings, he said.
The scheme attracted victims by offering a 93% return on sums invested in the pyramid scheme. The scam worked for a while, attracting thousands of investors -- until payouts stopped completely on Oct 13.