The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling sentencing 22 people to 12,265 years each in the Ufun online pyramid scheme and ordered them to pay 356 million baht to 2,451 victims.
The ruling was read out at the Criminal Court on Wednesday. However, the actual imprisonment under the law will be a maximum 20 years.
Public prosecutors in 2015 indicted Apiratch Saenkla, gay rights activist Natee Teerarojanapong and 41 others for violating the 2013 Transnational Organised Crime Prevention and Suppression Act; embezzlement under the 2002 Direct Selling and Direct Marketing Act, colluding in public fraud and putting false information into a computer system.
Between Oct 25, 2013 and June 18, 2015, Ufun Store Co persuaded people to invest in fruit juice drinks and cosmetic products with a promise of high returns. Later, the Ufun network duped people into investing in the pyramid scheme. All 43 defendants denied the charges.
The lower court earlier sentenced Apiratch and 21 other defendants to 12,265 years in prison and ordered them to pay 356 million baht to 2,451 victims with interest at 7.5% per year. The court acquitted 21 others, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Those convicted appealed the ruling.
The Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling but changed the interest rate that the defendants had to pay to 5% per year based on a new law.