Crusading lawyer Sittra Biabangkerd has asked Chuvit Kamolvisit to clarify reports that the whistleblower received 50 million baht from shady sources, far more than the amount he admitted to having received and then donating to hospitals.
Mr Sittra said he was raising the issue because he did not want to see a bogus Robin Hood who exposed illicit businesses but allegedly extorted money in return.
Mr Chuvit, a former massage parlour tycoon and politician, swiftly came out to defend himself. He admitted he had accepted 6 million baht from an associate of a police inspector who is being investigated in connection with a huge illegal gambling network, and that he donated all the money to two public hospitals. He denied any knowledge about the alleged transfer of 50 million baht.
At a press conference on Thursday, Mr Sittra said Mr Chuvit had been forced to admit that he had accepted 6 million baht from “Inspector Sua” after seeing the evidence he produced.
Inspector Sua is Pol Lt Col Wasawat Makurasakul, who has been suspended for frequent absenteeism from his post in the Office of Logistics of the Royal Thai Police. Investigators believe his frequent absences could be linked to his running of a multi-billion-baht gambling network, as Mr Chuvit has alleged.
Mr Sittra said on Thursday that Mr Chuvit had a right-hand man who ran an e-cigarette and cannabis business. The man reportedly took Inspector Sua to meet Mr Chuvit at the Davis Hotel that the latter owns on Sukhumvit Soi 24 to give money to him.
Since then, Chuvit had stopped exposing the gambling operator on his Facebook page, said Mr Sittra, asking rhetorically whether this was related to the meeting at the hotel during Chinese New Year.
He also said he would file a complaint with the police Central Investigation Bureau to look into the transfer of cryptocurrency worth over 50 million baht into a bank account of Mr Chuvit’s right-hand man. He asked Mr Chuvit to clarify the sum.
Bags of banknotes
Mr Sittra drew attention to his crusade by posting photos of two bags containing bundles of 1,000-baht banknotes on his Facebook page. On Wednesday he simply wrote “expose and extort” on the pictures, which attracted a lot of curious views. The following day he elaborated by posting a long message to Mr Chuvit:
“The total amount of money you received and took for merit-making is really 6 million baht, isn’t it, Phi Chuvit (Brother Chuvit)?” he wrote.
“Both insiders and outsiders told me that the amount is much higher — ten times. Let’s measure (the size of) the bags; the amount is not 6 million baht as you claimed. You keep attacking and taking things as if you were Robin Hood who took part of the money to make merit. Staging robberies and taking GP (gross profits) is easy earnings. You gain both reputation and money.”
The lawyer insisted his action was not politically motivated. He said he had never received money from a political party to attack Mr Chuvit. He did not name the party, but the reference was to the Bhumjaithai Party, which Mr Chuvit has been attacking almost daily for the past month.
The former massage parlour tycoon used his Facebook page on Wednesday to address questions about the cash in the bags.
“When I saw the money in the two bags, each containing 3 million baht, that lawyer Tum (Mr Sittra’s nickname) mentioned, I clearly remembered,” he wrote.
“A former senior policeman that I have known for a long time brought the money to me at my hotel. He told me that it belonged to ‘Sua’ and told me to stop attacking him.
“I told him that I rejected that suggestion, making it clear. I cannot help but continue exposing (illegal gambling). The former senior officer still wanted me to accept the money.
“The easiest thing to do would be to accept the money for personal use and nobody would know. But I chose to donate the first bag containing 3 million baht to Thammasat University Hospital on Feb 14, Valentine’s Day. I donated the other bag of 3 million baht to Siriraj Hospital on March 15. Both cash donations were witnessed by media members. I still continue making it my mission to expose Sua.”
Mr Chuvit has alleged that the police inspector in question was involved in an online gambling network, ran a massage parlour through a proxy and had accumulated riches totalling many billions of baht.
Meanwhile, he has continued with his attacks on the Bhumjaithai Party over its cannabis policy and alleged concealment of shares by Saksayam Chidchob, the party’s suspended transport minister.
Chuvit Kamolvisit posted pictures on his Facebook page of donations made to two public hospitals. The money, he said, had been given to him by an associate of an allegedly corrupt police inspector.