Big Joke confirmed suspect in 'Minnie' gambling case

Big Joke confirmed suspect in 'Minnie' gambling case

Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn.
Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn.

Deputy national police chief Surachate "Big Joke" Hakparn is a suspect in an online gambling case and could face multiple charges including money laundering, a deputy chief of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) confirmed on Wednesday.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew said that Pol Gen Surachate was one of five police officers additionally suspected of involvement in the online gambling network allegedly operated by 25-year-old single mother Suchanun Sucharitchinsri, also known as Minnie.

The five suspects were identified in a second case, after an expanded investigation into the first case involving Minnie-related gambling websites.

According to Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat, there are 61 suspects in the first case, which is the main case, and they include police officers.

The second case was sent to the National Anti-Corruption Commission because it involved high-level police officers. The NACC will later decide if it will handle the second case, or let the police do it.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat said the police would like to handle both cases because they were related.

The five officers in the second case would be initially charged with malfeasance and taking bribes, under Sections 157 and 149 of the Criminal Code. If the NACC returns the second case to the police, the five will also face money laundering charges, Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat said.

He denied the legal action arose from politics within the Royal Thai Police. It was the result of a continued investigation which "shockingly" revealed the involvement of police officers, with more than 300 million baht in cash also involved, he said.

"When more than 300 million baht was seen in transactions, this could not be let slide. Otherwise, it would be a cancer that would ruin the reputation of the police force," Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat said.

He said that investigators had enough evidence to pursue the case, including financial statements which showed who withdrew the money and the groups of people who received money from mole accounts.

"When the money trails were examined, we found that money was distributed to almost everyone involved in the cases... I believe that money might come from not only the Minnie gambling website network but also other websites. This is under investigation," Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat said.

Pol Gen Surachate was one of the candidates for possible promotion to national police chief last year. Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol got the job. At the time, Pol Gen Surachate said he still had eight years before retirement and he was in no rush.

Pol Gen Surachate became a household name after being assigned several high-profile cases and regularly holding press briefings on arrests. He recently opened a centre at the Police Club on Vihavadi Rangsit Road to receive complaints from the general public.

As part of an overall investigation into gambling sites, police in September last year raided Pol Gen Surachate's house in an operation code-named "Big Cleaning Day".

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau

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