Forex Ponzi scam suspect captured
published : 16 Jan 2021 at 04:00
newspaper section: News
writer: King-oua Laohong
The alleged mastermind behind the Forex-3D Ponzi scheme has finally been caught in Bangkok after more than a year on the run.
Apiruk Kothi was arrested yesterday morning at a condominium in the Thong Lor area, where investigators also seized several items, including a blue Lamborghini. He had repainted the orange supercar and planned to sell it on the grey market for 10 million baht, authorities said.
Also seized were land ownership documents, a safe with gold inside, luxury watches and a number of brand-name bags.
Pol Lt Col Korrawat Panprapakorn, the director-general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), said Mr Apiruk was wanted on an arrest warrant issued in March last year.
The DSI has received more than 8,400 documented claims from victims of the foreign-exchange scheme since the first group sought help from the Justice Ministry in November 2019. Most victims claimed they had not received the returns that were promised by the company. The damages are estimated to total 2 billion baht.
The DSI and the Anti-Money Laundering Office have confiscated assets worth around 1 billion baht from Mr Apiruk to pay back the victims.
In July last year, while Mr Apiruk was still on the run, authorities seized a 27-million-baht Aston Martin Vanquish, which had been stashed in Ratchaburi, from his wife.
Piyasiri Wattanavarangkul, director of the Bureau of Illegal Financial Business Crime at the DSI, said Mr Apiruk denied some of the accusations and would fight the case in court.
He said the Forex-3D boss claimed he operated three foreign-exchange firms -- in Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore -- with more than 60,000 clients, but he could not provide evidence to back his claim after he was arrested.
The Forex-3D executive fled Thailand after the scam was exposed in late 2019. He hid mainly in Singapore and Malaysia before returning to Thailand in October last year via Cambodia, said the official, who tracked his whereabouts.
Mr Apiruk never stayed in one place for long after returning to Bangkok. He had been living at the condominium where he was apprehended for less than two months, said Mr Piyasiri.
A DSI source said the suspect's trip home started in Singapore, from where he flew to Phnom Penh and then travelled by car to the border with Thailand near Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo. The suspect returned to Thailand because living abroad was expensive.