Ponzi scam suspect tries to flee nation

Another suspect in a major transnational Ponzi scheme which allegedly swindled more than 100,000 people out of 20 billion baht has been arrested while leaving the country, police say.

Pol Lt Gen Suwira Songmeta, an assistant national police chief, said Nong Khai police caught Namonphan Tharabundit at Nong Khai province yesterday while she was preparing to flee.

Ms Namonphan holds 9,000 shares with an estimated value of 900,000 baht in Ufun Store Co, which was legally registered to operate as a direct-sales company but had run its business in an unethical way.

The Ponzi scheme run by Ufun had allegedly swindled about 110,000 people out of more than 20 billion baht.

A preliminary examination found Ms Namonphan was authorised to sign the company's documents, Pol Lt Gen Suwira said.

Evidence also showed she had conducted 80 money transfers with a value of 116 million baht from Ufun to several companies between June and November last year, he added.   

Police investigators are working closely with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to follow the money trails of Ufun that had been transferred to several countries, Pol Lt Gen Suwira said.

Amlo secretary-general Srihanart Prayoonrat said his organisation is examining Ufun's assets to assess whether they need freezing and returning to its customers who were lured into doing business with the firm.

So far, the Criminal Court has approved warrants to arrest 12 suspects who are allegedly connected to the scam.

Five suspects had been arrested: Sub Lt Ritthidet Warong, 40, Rattawit Titiarunwat, 34, Chaithorn Thonglorlert, 40, Aphichanun Sankla, and Ms Namonphan.

The court yesterday issued arrest warrants for Pol Lt Gen Athiwat Soonpan, the chief adviser to Ufun, and his wife on charges of violating the criminal code and the law on obtaining loans amounting to public cheating and fraud.

Assistant national police chief Arthit Pankaew said a suspect who is an executive of Ufun has reportedly fled to Vietnam.

Source: Bangkok Post
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