Owner of Daruma Sushi denied bail, probe ongoing
A court has denied bail to the owner of the Daruma Sushi Japanese restaurant chain who has been charged with public fraud and a computer crime.
Metha Chalingsuk, 39, denied the charges when questioned by police from the Central Investigation Bureau after he was arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday.
The public fraud charges are related to the closure of his chain's outlets and the sale of discounted vouchers.
Earlier, Mr Metha claimed his business had gone broke due to cashflow problems because of Covid-19.
While he was escorted to court on Thursday, the media shouted out questions including how he planned to compensate the losses to his customers and franchisees, or if he still has any assets to cover his debts. Mr Metha declined to answer.
His lawyer asked the Criminal Court to grant him bail but the judge denied the request.
Mr Metha has been detained by a court order allowing police to question him for 12 days. Police will detain him at Bangkok Remand Prison.
Police opposed bail due to concerns that Mr Metha could flee the country as the cost of the damage due to his alleged actions may run as high as 100 million baht, said Consumer Protection Police Division commander, Pol Maj Gen Anan Nanasombat.
Pol Maj Gen Anan said his team are investigating what happened to all the money involved.
Police initially found Mr Metha's Daruma Sushi account had transactions worth about 303.45 million baht, but currently only has one million baht.
Police will investigate if Mr Metha transferred the money to people close to him or spent the funds on assets, Pol Maj Gen Anan said.
They will also investigate if others were involved in the offending, he said.
Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej said the investigation team has been told they need to ensure the case is handled properly as there are many victims.
Police estimate there are up to 10,000, with around 400 already having lodged complaints.
Mr Metha left the country on a flight to Dubai on June 16.
The following day all 27 branches of Daruma Sushi closed, citing a need to improve the company's server.
- Daruma Sushi