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Top Police Chief Investigated Over US$4 Million Extortion Allegation

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Top Police Chief Investigated Over US$4 Million Extortion Allegation

The provincial police commander in Thailand’s Chonburi province is one of eight senior officers removed from duty for allegedly conspiring with civilians to extort US$4 million (140 million baht) from online gambling suspects.

Thailand’s National police commander Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas ordered the transfer of the eight officers to the Royal Thai Police (RTP) operations command centre on Saturday, RTP spokesman Pol Lt Gen Archayon Kraithong told the Bangkok Post.

Pol Maj Gen Kamphon Leelaprapaporn, 54, is the chief of Chon Buri police; Pol Lt Col Narongrit Wasuphan is the deputy chief; Pol Lt Col Sathian Ratchapongthai is the deputy superintendent at Nong Kham station in Chon Buri; Pol Maj Pornthep Phetnuan is the investigation chief at Wang Chan station in Rayong; Pol Col Damrong Onta is the superintendent at the Cyber Investigation Bureau

According to Pol Lt Gen Archayon, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national leader, has been selected to head a special investigative panel that would look into the issue.

Investigators from Provincial Police Regions 1 and 2 will be on the panel, and they will be responsible with gathering evidence. Any officers found guilty would face quick and severe disciplinary action because the case has harmed police’s reputation, according to Pol Lt Gen Archayon.

Authorities are also looking into two civilians, Phisit “Tonne” Nakhisornpanee and Veera “Boy” Nasap, who are thought to be connected to the eight officers. They are accused of being assigned to deal with gambling suspects.

Warrants Issued for Police Officers

On Saturday, Pol Gen Surachate stated that he would seek court permission to arrest the eight officers and two civilians on Sunday. If the request is granted, the accused would be directed to the Royal Thai Police Sports Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.

He stated that investigators would initially file accusations under Section 157 of the Criminal Code for public official wrongdoing and Section 149 for requesting or receiving bribes.

On Saturday, Pol Maj Gen Kamphon revealed that online gambling companies had filed a complaint against him. He stated that he would present the facts of the case to the national police head in a report.

The probe has made some headway. According to the spokesman, the financial records of the cops and six others suspected of involvement in online gambling enterprises are being reviewed for possible linkages.

Alleged Extortion

Six people filed a complaint with Pathum Thani’s Khu Khot police station on Thursday, claiming Pol Maj Gen Kamphon and his staff of attempting to extort 140 million baht from them. According to the complainants, at around 1pm on May 23, a team of Chon Buri police officers with warrants apprehended them during searches on three sites in Bangkok and Nonthaburi.

Some of the complainants were then escorted to Bangkok’s Khannayao police station before being taken to Chon Buri to meet with Pol Maj Gen Kamphon at his office.

According to social media posts, the Chon Buri chief was cited as telling one of the suspects, “There is a way out, Phae. How much do you adore the police chief? Make a note of it (the amount of money).”

According to Thai media accounts, Mr Phisit arrived shortly after that chat to resume the negotiations. According to reports, the suspect offered 20 million baht, but Mr Phisit demanded 120 million. They finally agreed on 65 million baht. Mr Veera then entered the room and instructed the suspect to pay Mr Phisit and he would handle the rest of the matter.

At around 11 p.m. on May 23, the arresting squad transferred the suspect from the Chon Buri headquarters to the Bang Lamung police station. The two civilians asked the suspect to contact acquaintances in order to bring 65 million baht, and the suspect was detained at the station overnight.

The suspect borrowed money from friends and family the next day. The money was allegedly provided to Mr Veera and Mr Phisit in two distinct locations: behind a housing development in Khu Khut, Pathum Thani, and behind a temple in Chiang Rai’s Mae Suai district.

Online gambling companies

After the money was given over, the arresting team took the suspect to Chon Buri’s Saensuk police station, where Pol Maj Gen Kamphon awaited. The suspect was eventually released.

Mr Phisit and Mr Veera later contacted another suspect who had fled abroad and sought 30 million baht. They also requested to be partners in his online gambling companies and demanded more money from him and his other partners.

The suspects eventually became tired of the shakedown tactics and decided to file a complaint against the police officers and the two civilians.

According to a police source, Pol Gen Surachate will study security camera footage from the Chon Buri chief’s office as well as sites that police raided and where extortion attempts allegedly occurred.

According to the source, one of the eight transferred officers has already reported to his immediate commander, CCIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Worawat Watnakhonbancha. The last seven were expected to report at the RTP on Saturday.

The Chon Buri police chief was recently honoured by the national police chief. Recognising an internet photo, Pol Gen Archayont stated that it was shot at an event to honour outstanding police units around the country and was not handed to individual personnel. On February 18, all police in Chon Buri received an award for traffic management and road accident reduction over the New Year break.

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