Failed election candidate held over huge face-masks scandal

Failed election candidate held over huge face-masks scandal

Anonvat Vorametchayangkoon, left, is arrested and 100 boxes each containing 50 face masks  seized in Wang Thong Lang area, Bangkok. (Photo supplied)
Anonvat Vorametchayangkoon, left, is arrested and 100 boxes each containing 50 face masks seized in Wang Thong Lang area, Bangkok. (Photo supplied)

A former election candidate of the Paradonraphab Party has been arrested for alleged involvement in the hoarding of face masks by "Sia Boy", who claimed to be a close aide to a member of a deputy cabinet minister’s team.

Police arrested Anonvat Vorametchayangkoon in Wang Thong Lang area of Bangkok in possession of 100 boxes containing a total of 5,000 face masks on March 31, Pol Maj Gen Natthasak Chaovanasai, commander of the Consumer Protection Police Division, said on Thursday.

Police investigators had linked Mr Anonvat to the hoarding of 200 million face masks by Sornsuvee “Boy” Pooraveenasawatchari, 47, who was earlier arrested for putting false information into a computer system about the sale of face masks.

During interrogation, Mr Anonvat allegedly confessed to having ordered face masks from a nai thoon, or big businessman. He did not name the man. He told police that he supplied the boxes for the face masks and the man filled them. He then sold them, according to police.

He also admitted he had previously been a sales agent for another man in the same business, and received a 10 satang commission for each mask sold. 

Pol Maj Gen Natthasak said Mr Anonvat provided useful information. The investigation was being extended to bring those involved in the overpricing of face masks to task, and to the massive face-mask hoarding by Mr Sornsuvee.

The investigation linked Mr Anonvat to the “Thai mask’’ Facebook page, which posted messages offering huge quantities of face masks for sale online. The page claimed the masks were imported.

Mr Anonvat also had links to Mr Sornsuvee, who claimed to be a close aide to a member of Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow's team. Mr Thamanat has denied any involvement.

Mr Sornsuvee, or Sia Boy, had posted video clips offering to sell 200 million surgical masks before he was arrested on charges of putting false information into a computer system.

 Mr Sornsuvee’s Facebook posts and video clips were copied by Mam Pho Dam, a popular independent investigator of current affairs on the platform, who claimed to know why masks were in such short supply  for the public.

Mam Pho Dam claimed all the posts she captured were from Mr Sornsuvee, whose Facebook account was later closed.  

Pol Maj Gen Natthasak said the investigators would dig deeper into the links between Mr Anonvat and other people involved in the face-masks scandal.

Mr Anonvat was caught in a sting. Police agents contacted him, looking to buy 5,000 face masks. He was charged with selling controlled products at inflated prices.



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