NACC Freezes Transport Secretary’s Stolen Cash

The Bangkok Post reported on 23 November 2011 that the National Anti-corruption Commission (NACC) ordered a freeze on 15 million baht allegedly stolen from transport permanent secretary Supoj Saplom’s home while it forms a panel to investigate him for alleged misconduct.

It was reported that on 29 November 2011, the NACC found there were grounds to the allegation that Supoj is unusually wealthy, corrupt and has used false information to hide his assets.

Supoj’s home was burgled on 12 November 2011 as the Saplom family attended the wedding of Mr. Supoj’s eldest daughter at a Bangkok hotel, during which an unknown amount of cash was stolen from his house.

Mr. Supoj initially told the police he lost 1 million baht, then later reported a loss of 5 million baht in cash, a figure which the Bangkok Post reported Supoj as repeating as of 10 December 2011.

However, by 29 November 2011, police had seized around 18 million baht and one of the robbers claims to be holding another 9 million baht and investigators estimate the theft involved at least 100 million baht and another alleged robber claimed to have seen up to 1 billion baht inside the house, reported the Bangkok Post on 22 November 2011.

On 25 November 2011, the Bangkok Post reported Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung explaining that the cash found in Supoj’s home was connected to electric rail projects in Bangkok.

The Bangkok Post reported on 29 November: “The transport minister said there was no evidence to substantiate Mr Chalerm’s claims and said that an investigation into the projects was not necessary.”  This same article of the Bangkok Post goes onto report that: “ACM Sukumpol on Monday signed an order establishing an inquiry panel to probe Mr Supoj’s alleged unusual wealth. The panel, headed by PM’s Office permanent secretary Thongthong Chandrangsu, will focus on Mr Supoj’s alleged unusual wealth and will attempt to trace the source of the money and the exact amount of money he had, ACM Sukumpol said.”

On 14 December 2011, the Bangkok Post reported that a Senate panel will question the NACC over its probe into Supoj’s alleged unusual wealth.

It was reported on 19 December 2011 that a special investigation team has been sent to Laos, where the manhunt for Weerasak Chaulee, a key suspect in the burglary of Supoj’s house, is believed to be hiding.  The police have said that Weerasak made off with at least 100 million baht, based on figures provided by the arrested suspects.

On 23 December 2011, the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) announced that it will start tracing Supoj’s asset trail as well as those of members of his family in January 2012.

Thailand has specific laws concerning government officers who have “unusual wealth”. For information, click here.

For a summary of Thailand’s anti-corruption laws, click here.