Up to 30 cops suspected in illegal gambling case

The Phuket News
Up to 30 cops suspected in illegal gambling case
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BANGKOK: Almost 30 police officers may be involved in a bribery case tied to an illegally operated online gambling network, according to a team of lawyers representing deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn.

The lawyers of Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn hold a press conference at a hotel in Bangkok yesterday (Mar 19). Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut

The lawyers said the 30 officers were suspected of taking kickbacks from the BNK Master network. It is the same gambling network from which Pol Gen Surachate has been accused of taking bribes, the Bangkok Post  reports them as saying.

Pol Gen Surachate’s lawyer, Natthawit Netijarurote, said the team had checked the available evidence and 34 bank accounts linked to the network but found no connection to Pol Gen Surachate.

“A warrant was only sought to arrest a certain suspect,” Mr Natthiwat said, referring to Pol Gen Surachate, who also goes by the moniker “Big Joke”.

The Criminal Court last Tuesday approved warrants for the arrest of three officers and a civilian over suspected money laundering in connection with BNKMaster, which was busted last year.

They were identified as Pol Col Kittichai Sangkhathaworn, Pol Sgt Natthawut Wadwaew, Pol Sgt Natthanan Chuchak, and Napansakorn Haekerd.

Some reports said the court also issued a summons for a high-ranking officer, later named as Pol Gen Surachate, over the accusations. However the lawyers denied this. Police had wanted the court to issue an arrest warrant for him but they had insufficient evidence, Mr Natthawit said.

There were attempts to discredit Pol Gen Surachate because he was now the most senior candidate for the national police chief’s job, he added.

The current chief is due to retire at the end of September.

National police chief Torsak Sukvimol previously said Pol Gen Surachate has been summoned to appear at Tao Poon police station tomorrow in connection with the investigation into the BNK Master gambling network.

A written notice was posted at Pol Gen Surachate’s residence last Sunday.

If a second notice is sent and Pol Gen Surachate fails to show up, he will face an arrest warrant and be suspended from duty, Pol Gen Torsak said.

Pol Gen Surachate argued earlier that the National Anti-Corruption Commission had taken over investigating the “Minnie” online gambling network case, in which he was a suspect.

But Pol Gen Torsak said that police officers had summoned Pol Gen Surachate about the BNK Master case, which is separate.

Pol Gen Surachate is suspected of laundering money in both cases, Pol Gen Torsak added.