Two public hospitals have announced that they will return donations of 3 million baht each to whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit, who came under fire over the source of the money.
Dr Apichart Asavamongkolkul, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, held a press conference on Friday to clarify the donation his hospital had received.
He said he and the head of the hospital’s Anatomy Department were present to receive the donation on March 15, and a receipt was issued to Mr Chuvit for a double tax deduction, 6 million baht in this case, as allowed by the law.
Following reports that the donated money might be linked to illegal businesses, the faculty decided to return it to Mr Chuvit as soon as possible, said Dr Apichart.
The hospital does not have any criteria for issuing receipts to donors, he said as he answered a reporter’s question about money-laundering prevention.
He said the hospital is deeply grateful to all donors, as their donations have been allocated in accordance with their intentions, such as supporting research and constructing hospital buildings.
After learning that Mr Chuvit’s donation was not his own money, Siriraj Hospital would return it so that he could proceed according to the judicial process, said Dr Apichart.
The hospital’s decision came after crusading lawyer Sittra Biabangkerd asked Mr Chuvit to clarify reports that he had received 50 million baht from shady sources, far more than the amount he admitted to having received and then donating to two hospitals.
Mr Sittra posted photos of two bags containing bundles of 1,000-baht banknotes on his Facebook page on Wednesday and Thursday.
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, asking him to clarify the exact amount of donations and sources of the money.
This prompted Mr Chuvit, an outspoken former politician and former massage parlour tycoon, 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.
Mr Chuvit also posted pictures on his Facebook page of himself making the donations to the hospitals.
On Friday, Mr Chuvit confirmed the two hospitals had contacted him about returning the money.
“Siriraj Hospital and Thammasat University Hospital have already contacted me for the return of donations,” he wrote. “I will hand over the money to the police. Do you feel more at ease?”
He insisted he had good intentions to donate the money to the hospitals to help provide treatment to ill people.
“If the hospitals feel uncomfortable and want to return the money, I must bring the money to police authorities. I don’t know what the police will do about the sum,” he wrote.
“I had good intentions to donate the money to these hospitals to treat ill people or help the dead. The individual who brought the money to me is a retired senior police officer whom I have known for a long time.
“Subconsciously, I could distinguish what is my money and what is not. Society can judge what kind of person I am. It’s normal for people who lose benefits from my actions to try every possible means to get even with me. But I have already made my decision (to expose them). I bet this game with my life,” said Mr Chuvit.
Dr Apichart Asavamongkolkul (left), dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, announces on Friday that the hospital will return a 3-million-baht donation to whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)