Online lotto chief charged with overpricing
Panthawat accuses police investigators of intimidating his clients to make them testify
published : 2 Feb 2023 at 20:05
writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
The embattled chief executive of the Kong Salak Plus online lottery platform reported to police on Thursday to acknowledge charges of selling tickets at more than face value. He denied all charges and accused police of intimidating his clients.
Panthawat Nakwisut arrived at the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD) head office around 11am to meet CPPD commander Pol Maj Gen Anan Nanasombat and investigators.
Pol Maj Gen Anan said that if Mr Panthawat confessed during questioning, he would be liable to a fine of up to 10,000 baht. If he denied the charges, investigators would submit their report to prosecutors to proceed with the case in court.
Investigators are also checking whether the Kong Salak Plus office is legally registered. If not, another charge would be pressed, said the CPPD commander.
After emerging from the interrogation room, Mr Panthawat told reporters that he had denied all charges.
“I didn’t sell overpriced tickets. There are no reasons to confess,” he said.
He insisted that he sold lottery tickets at 80 baht but there were service fees because he had to find tickets and provide services to customers. When buying lottery tickets online, customers clicked a button to agree that they were willing to pay service fees, he said.
Those who filed complaints were not his customers, but officials from the Government Lottery Office (GLO), he argued.
He alleged police had intimidated his clients at their homes to force them to be witnesses in a bid to substantiate the charges that he sold tickets at inflated prices.
He said he had learned that more than 50 customers had been contacted by police.
“Customers who are intimidated by police could refuse to be state witnesses; otherwise they will waste time going to a police station or a court,” said Mr Panthawat.
“I myself am also wasting my time travelling to acknowledge charges across the country. I am running out of money now. My bank accounts have been frozen. I feel stressed.”
On Tuesday, he turned himself in to Department of Special Investigation (DSI) investigators to acknowledge charges of colluding in money-laundering and providing an online gambling service.
The DSI pressed charges over suspicious transfer of 53 million baht from an online gambling website and 39 other suspicious transfers totalling about one billion baht into his account.
Mr Panthawat denied all charges on Tuesday following the closure of the Kong Salak Plus platform.
His decision to wrap up the business appeared to be a pre-emptive move, coming after the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) met the GLO and the Royal Thai Police to discuss an enforced closure of Kong Salak Plus, said DES spokesman Wetang Phuangsup.
The ministry had evidence ready to submit to the Criminal Court for an injunction to that effect. Officials are now awaiting the result of a preliminary hearing, according to Mr Wetang.
Mr Panthawat, 43, had built a reputation of quickly contacting lottery prize winners after the numbers were drawn and delivering the money to them at home, earning applause from online lottery customers.