Bt30-million lottery plot gets thicker as more Kanchanaburi police transferred

national February 24, 2018 01:00


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TWO OTHER policemen from Kanchanaburi province were transferred for their allegedly suspicious role in the high-profile dispute over ownership of the winning Bt30-million lottery tickets.

Pol Lt-Colonel Chuwit Jaroennak, a deputy superintendent at the Muang Kanchanaburi Police Station, and the station’s deputy inspector, Pol Captain Jirayut Chatcharinkul, were served the orders on Thursday. Three police officers from the province have been transferred so far in the wake of the lottery-cheating scandal. 

On Wednesday, Kanchanaburi’s top policeman Commander Pol Maj-General Sutthi Puangpikul was transferred.

The transfers have been attributed to available evidence suggesting that Chuwit and Sutthi might have favoured teacher Preecha Kraikruan’s bid to claim the five lottery-winning tickets from retired police lieutenant Charoon Wimul, who had cashed them last November. Jirayut prepared the investigation report on the dispute after close consultation with Chuwit and Sutthi. 

Jirayut is quoted as saying Chuwit and Sutthi had ordered him to change the statements of Preecha and his witnesses several times and retroactively dated them in the investigation report to boost their credibility. 

The alleged irregularities were exposed after Charoon urged the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) to take over the case from the Kanchanaburi police.

Late last year, Preecha had lodged a complaint with Muang Kanchanaburi Police Station against Charoon, accusing him of illegitimately cashing the winning lottery tickets. 

Preecha claimed he had bought these lottery tickets from a local vendor and dropped them at a market in Kanchanaburi. Later, Charoon was found to have cashed the big prizes. 

Charoon has dismissed Preecha’s claim, insisting had he had bought those tickets. Charoon also complained to police against Preecha for filing a false complaint against him. 

The National Police Office has lately assigned the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) to look into the case. 

CIB chief Pol Lt-General Thitiraj Nhongharnpitak yesterday refused to reveal the results of his agency’s investigation. “National police Commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda will announce the results on February 28,” he said. 

Thitiraj, so far, has hinted that one side in the dispute had definitely told lies while the other had been honest.

National Police Office Inspector-General Pol General Suchat Theerasawat said if the investigation by the CIB implicated any policeman, his office would consider initiating both criminal and disciplinary proceedings. 

“If there are grounds to try for criminal offences, the case will be forwarded to the CSD or the Counter-Corruption Division,” he said. 

He said evidence suggested Sutthi might have engaged in alleged wrongdoing. A fact-finding committee has not yet been set up to investigate Sutthi only because the CIB has not yet concluded its investigation. 

An insider said Preecha had first showed up at the Muang Kanchanaburi Police Station to complain about the lottery tickets on November 2 last year. Preecha later produced two lottery vendors as his witnesses, this source said.

According to the source, Jirayut summoned Charoon to the police station on November 28 to negotiate with Preecha. As their negotiations were inconclusive, Chuwit intervened and invited both into his room. Later in the day, Chuwit ordered Jirayut to officially register Preecha’s complaint. 

“From that time on, Jirajut had conducted the investigation in consultation with Chuwit. Sutthi also had the investigation report and witnesses in the case sent to his home several times,” the source said. 

Inside information revealed Chuwit was the person who had signed the order to freeze Charoon’s bank account. Charoon protested against the order, prompting Chuwit to seek consultation from a local court last December. 

“After Chuwit came back from the court, he told Jirayut that he had met a witness who spoke in Preecha’s favour,” an insider said. 

The witness, court official Dussadee Thinthungthong, is a long-time acquaintance of Chuwit.

The CIB questioned Dussadee extensively on Thursday.