DHAMMAKAYA Temple lawyer Samphan Sermcheep and two board members of M-Home Co met police yesterday to hear charges of money-laundering and conspiracy to launder money in relation to the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) embezzlement scandal.
Samphan and three others were accused of acting as a proxy for KCUC chairman Supachai Srisupa-aksorn in holding shares of M-Home Co, which Supachai allegedly bought with money siphoned from the cooperative's accounts, before later transferring the shares back to Supachai.
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Bureau of Special Crime 3 director Pol Lt Colonel Bantoon Chimgra notified the accused of the charges and carried out an initial interrogation. He said the suspects acknowledged the charges, but Samphan denied the allegations and said he would only testify in court.
Bantoon said Samphan had been summoned by the DSI previously to testify as a witness about why he held the shares and transferred them to Supachai, but the lawyer couldn’t provide an immediate explanation and asked to submit his reasons in documents later.
After he subsequently failed to provide the documents, DSI officers summoned him and the three M-Home Co board members to hear the charges yesterday.
The two board members who met police yesterday were Chamlong Thabsuwan and Thawatkit Thananant. A fourth suspect, Dr Banleu Kongchai, had asked for postponement because he was being ordained as a monk for 15 days.
After meeting DSI officers, Samphan maintained his innocence and said he would submit the documents to explain his actions later.
Samphan insisted that Supachai wanted land in Klong Luang district in Pathum Thani that belonged to M-Home, so Supachai used money from the cooperative to buy the company shares. He said he and other executives were involved because they had the right to take over M-Home since 2009-2010.
Under the terms of a contract that required the cooperative to buy Bt1 billion worth of shares, it would leave up to Bt40 million in profit and commission fees for Samphan, Banleu and Chamlong to split among themselves after the Bt900-million debt was repaid to a financial institution.
However, as Supachai paid Bt280 million, the firm took out some plots to sell to get enough money to repay the financial institution or else the land and the down-payment would have all been seized, Samphan said.
Samphan also confirmed he was still representing Dhammakaya Temple, although the temple actually had a team of between 20 and 30 lawyers.
In regard to arrest warrants issued against ailing Dhammakaya abbot Phra Dhammachayo, Samphan said he had not yet received details of the warrant issued in Loei for encroaching on state forestland.
He said he had not had a chance to meet Phra Dhammachayo lately. The abbot’s doctors said he was still very ill, so Samphan said he couldn’t tell when the abbot would surrender to authorities.