111 Pongpat-linked accounts frozen

111 Pongpat-linked accounts frozen

The Anti-Money Laundering Office on Tuesday ordered a freeze on 111 bank accounts worth about 100 million baht belonging to members of the alleged criminal network of former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan.

Three of the accounts frozen while Amlo checks whether the funds were illegally obtained belonged to Pol Lt Gen Pongpat and had combined deposits of only 70,085 baht.

Amlo secretary-general Seehanart Prayoonrat said Pol Lt Gen Pongpat's accounts had unusually low transaction activity and alleged that he avoided transferring money into those accounts. That showed he knew well about money-laundering laws, Pol Col Seehanart alleged, adding the low activity would make it difficult to follow a money trail.

"It was believed that Pol Lt Gen Pongpat had not carried out cash transactions via financial institutions, but laundered money through artifacts such as expensive Sangkalok ware," Pol Col Seehanart said.

Amlo so far found Pol Lt Gen Pongpat only had financial links with his sister Piyaphan Chinnaprapa and brother-in-law Chob Chinhaprapha.

Pol Col Seehanart said 104 bank accounts totalling 38 million baht belonged to seven other individuals who were Pol Lt Gen Pongpat's aides. Among them were former CIB deputy chief Pol Maj Gen Kowit Wongrungroj, his driver Songpol Thongsin and his unregistered wife Chuankamol Rungpeerapong.

Pol Maj Gen Kowit had seven bank accounts with deposits of 3.2 million baht. Mr Songpol owned 54 accounts worth 3.1 million baht. Ms Chuankamol was a holder of 16 accounts containing 28.6 million baht.

An initial probe found Mr Songpol and Ms Chuankamol acted as a money launder for Pol Mai Gen Kowit. Investigators have yet to seek warrants for the arrest of Ms Chuankamol, Pol Col Seehanart said, but Amlo will summon her to provide information about the source of her money.  

The remaining frozen four accounts worth 61.6 million baht belong to Panida Suwadee. The Amlo chief said Ms Panida was a business partner of Sudathip Muangnual, the nephew of Pol Lt Gen Pongpat, who is accused of citing the royal institution in helping her to win a contract to supply food for an establishment.

Owners of these accounts will be summoned to clarify the origins of their money and if they fail to do so, Amlo will seize the funds and take the case to court. Amlo is expected to complete its probe into the 111 accounts in late January, Pol Col Seehanart added.

Last week, the agency froze title deeds for 104 land plots worth more than 400 million baht owned by the disgraced ex-CIB chief.

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