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Thailand: Bitcoin Fraud Case Ropes in Bank Staff and Prominent Stock Investor

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:55 PM
Mark Emem
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:55 PM

The investigation into the Thailand bitcoin fraud case involving a Finnish national who lost 5,564 bitcoins to Thai fraudsters has now widened its reach to include a stock investor and bank employees.

According to the Bangkok Post , Prasit Srisuwan, an investor at the Stock Exchange of Thailand, as well as employees of three Thai commercial banks namely Kasikornbank, Siam Commercial Bank and Bangkok Bank are now being probed.

While Thai law requires bank employees to alert the Anti-Money Laundering Office when money transfer transactions of amounts of 2 million baht (approximately US$60,000) or more occur, police allege the bank staff failed to act in accordance with the law. As CCN.com previously reported, various amounts ranging in value from over US$600,000 were transferred to different accounts after the stolen bitcoins were moved from e-wallets.

Bank Employees Broke Thai Law

According to reports, the police are now considering filing charges against the banks as well as the responsible employees. Reports further say that stock investor Srisuwan is seeking to negotiate a settlement with the 22-year old Finnish national, Aarni Otava Saarimaa, who was defrauded by the Thai gang, in order to avoid prosecution. In the complaint that Saarimaa filed in January this year, the Finn accused Srisuwan of receiving 66.5 million baht (nearly US$2 million) to acquire shares on his behalf but instead defrauded him.

“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. But he never received the shares after making the transfer,” Thailand’s Crimes Suppression Division (CSD) boss, Major General Maitree Chimcherd, was reported as having said in an earlier report.

Family Affair

Prior to the Thai police turning their sights on the stock investor and the bank employees, the CSD had been concentrating on the Jaravijits. While Thai actor Jiratpisit Jaravijit was arrested and freed on bail and prohibited from leaving the country last week, his elder sister Suphitcha Jaravijit, submitted herself to the police on Wednesday and released under similar conditions.

Though investigators allege that 140 million baht (US$4.2 million) was moved into a bank account belonging to Suphitcha, she has claimed innocence placing the blame on Prinya Jaravijit, her elder brother, and has indicated that she plans on transferring the money back to his account. Jiratpisit, whose bank account is said to have received 21 million baht (US$649,000), also accused his elder brother of using his bank account without his consent. Parents of the three are also said to be under investigation.

On the run

Meanwhile, the alleged mastermind of the bitcoin fraud scheme, Prinya, is believed to be currently in hiding in the United States. If arrested he can expect to face charges back at home as Thailand and the U.S. have an extradition treaty.

Featured image from Shutterstock.