FORMER crime-buster Pol Lt-General Pongpat Chayaphan and a close police aide were yesterday given 10-year jail terms for money laundering. Five other members of the racket he ran received lesser penalties.
It was the third sentence Pongpat and Pol Maj-General Kowit Wongrungroj have received. An earlier court verdict on January 30 sentenced both men to six years for benefiting from a gambling den, while a second verdict on February 12 saw Pongpat given a nine-month term for violating a forestry-related law.
The Criminal Court yesterday also sentenced another policeman, Pol Maj-General Bunsueb Phraitheun, and four civilians to lighter penalties for their roles supporting money laundering under Pongpat’s racketeering.
The judges originally handed a 20-year sentence each to Pongpat and Kowit, but halved the terms citing their guilty pleas and cooperation during the police investigation.
The other defendants also benefited from this half-term condition: Bunsueb finally receiving an 18-month term, Chob and Piyaphan Chinaprapha, Pongpat’s brother-in-law and sister, receiving five years, while Rerngsak Saknarongdej and Sawong Mungthiang, who acted as Pongpat’s nominees for acquiring assets, also received five years in jail.
Rerngsak and Sawong are already serving nine-month sentences for a January 20 verdict, while Bunsueb, a former Marine Police Division chief, and Chob and Piyaphan received their first jail terms yesterday.
Acts of money laundering committed by the suspects were described in the indictment and included the purchase of several land plots with ill-gotten money supplied to Pongpat and Kowit through bribes, revenue from illegal gambling dens, and sales of police positions by corrupt officers, deposited into several bank accounts. A total of Bt223 million was spent on 92 plots of land.
The indictment in this case has also implicated two other suspects on the run but omitted Pol Colonel Akkharawut Limrat, who died beforehand.