Thai Online Gambling Investigation Widens (update)

13 police officers implicated so far in online football betting ring

Nine more arrest warrants for policemen have been issued in the widening investigation into police involvement in a massive football online gambling ring, according to reports from Thai media Thursday.

Charges include allegations that officers, some of them very senior and now removed from their posts, were receiving hefty bribes from a reportedly Indian illegal sports betting operator, Abubakar bin Sulaiman, who ran an international criminal online betting network (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Among those currently in detention are former Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Lt-General Pongpat Chayaphan.

13 officers in total have now been charged with malfeasance and abuse of power, Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Lt-General Sriwara Rangsi-prammanakul revealed Thursday.

The nine officers who are the subjects of the most recent warrants of arrest, mostly Crime Suppression Division personnel, are Police Colonels Watcharaphol Thongluan and Athip Thaennil, Lt-Colonels Phiphat Chawengraj and Watthana Phol-ngarndee, Majors Jakkraphan Leelananthawong and Aphisit Mekprayoon, and Police Captains Nithiphat Kangruambutr and Sakrin Kesornthian.

A lone civilian suspect was identified as Withoon Trakarn-phruek for whom a warrant has been issued.

Lt. General Sriwara said investigators were inspecting 800 bank accounts belonging to the nine suspects and would raid their homes to obtain assets and determine whether they had been acquired with criminally generated money.

Three other senior officers already charged in the Abubakar case and detained for previous crimes associated with racketeering and intimidation are former CIB deputy chief Pol Maj-General Kowit Wongrungroj and Police Colonels Worraphoj Phuetphol and Songrak Khunsri.

According to police, Watcharaphol, Worraphoj and Athip joined Pongpat in the 2009 raid at the luxury home of property developer Karan Singh Thakral. They allegedly ordered other members to take money from bank accounts seized from Thakral and hand it to Pongpat and Kowit.

Pongpat, then CSD chief speaking at a press interview after the 2009 raid, said 39-year-old Thakral was part of the online gambling network of one Abubakar bin Sulaiman. The network's turnover to date is alleged to be more than Baht 3.2 billion, with police suspecting the enterprise was also involved in other unspecified illicit businesses.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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