Thai actor Jiratpisit Jaravijit has been released on a 2 million Thai baht (approximately US$60,000) bail following his arrest over alleged money laundering in a bitcoin fraud case. As part of the conditions for his release, the actor popularly known as ‘Boom’ will be required to remain in Thailand.
The 27-year-old television and commercials actor was nabbed on Thursday in Thailand’s capital Bangkok while filming. It is alleged that Jaravijit was part of a gang that defrauded a Finnish national named Aarni Otava Saarimaa more than 5,000 bitcoins on the pretext that they would acquire shares in firms that had made investments in the Dragon Coin cryptocurrency. Saarimaa, 22, lodged a complaint this year on January 30, six months after he got to know the perpetrators of the fraud.
Per the chief of Crimes Suppression Division, Major General Maitree Chimcherd, the gang that included Jaravijit’s older siblings, the promises made to Saarimaa by the gang never materialized.
“The gang lured the victim to transfer 5,564 bitcoins to its e-wallet, claiming the payment was for the shares of three firms, including DNA 2002 Public Company Limited,” said Chimcherd. “But he never received the shares after making the transfer.”
After obtaining the bitcoins, Chimcherd revealed that the cryptocurrency holdings were converted into THB before being moved to bank accounts belonging to Jaravijit’s siblings and subsequently various other members of the gang. According to Chimcherd, the value of the bitcoins at the time of the conversion was 797 million bhat (nearly US$24 million at current USD/THB exchange rate). Warrants of arrest have also been issued against the siblings of the actor who are currently overseas.
So far title deeds to various plots of land which are believed to have been acquired using the proceeds of the scam have also been seized by Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office. Additionally, bank accounts belonging to 51 suspects have been frozen by the anti-money laundering agency.
An elder brother of Jaravijit, Parinya, reportedly possesses more than US$3.3 million in his bank account while the bank account of his elder sister named Supitcha contains approximately US$4.2 million. Jaravijit’s bank account, on the other hand, possesses US$649,000. Other bank accounts of alleged gang members contain amounts ranging between US$2 million and US$4.9 million.
In his defense, Jaravijit has proclaimed innocence saying his brother Parinya used his bank account. Though Parinya is on the run, Supitcha has reportedly sought an audience with the police, according to The Nation.