Banyin charged in Chuwong shares case

Former deputy commerce minister Banyin Tangpakorn insisted on his innocence when he turned himself in to police on Tuesday to hear charges of theft of shares held by the late billionaire contractor Chuwong Sae Tang.

He also threatened to sue the investigators for “dereliction of duty”.

UPDATE: Banyin: I’m not involved

Pol Lt Col Banyin reported to investigators at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) after arrest warrants were issued for him and three women yesterday for the alleged theft of hundreds of millions of baht in shares from Chuwong.

He was charged with theft, forging documents and receiving stolen assets. The other three suspects — Kanthana Siwathanapol, a 26-year-old former golf caddie; and Uracha Wachirakulton, a 26-year-old stockbroker and her 52-year-old mother Srithara Phromma, have told police they will surrender to answer the charges on Thursday.

In a press interview before meeting the police, Pol Lt Col Banyin accused CSD investigators of unfairly rushing the investigation and questioning only witnesses they had chosen. He said none of his witnesses had been called in for questioning.

He said he was considering filing a police complaint against the case investigators for dereliction of duty in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, for alleged unfair investigation.

Pol Lt Col Banyin showed reporters several pens, each with an ink eraser on the end, and claimed his friend Chuwong regularly used this type of pen when writing on transactional documents.

He claimed that when Chuwong allegedly wrote “pledge” on the share transaction documents with such a pen, and later changed it to “transfer”, only he and Chuwong were present, so no one else knew about it. He later gave the pens to the investigators.

Police earlier said the original content on the share transfers documents obtained from two stock brokerage firms which handled share trading for Chuwong had been erased and rewritten with different pens.

Pol Lt Col Banyin also claimed the share transfers had been made from June 8 to June 26, the day he died, and that Chuwong could have alerted someone if the transfers had been made without his consent. “Why did he play golf with me if I had doctored his share transfer documents,” he asked.

The suspect stated his innocence and said he would not flee and would fight the case to the end.

CSD commander Pol Maj Gen Akaradej Pimolsri said Pol Lt Col Banyin denied all the charges during three hours of questioning. Police then denied him bail for fear he may try to tamper with evidence in the case.

Pol Maj Gen Akaradej said investigators were confident they had a watertight case to prosecute Pol Lt Col Banyin in court. He added that the suspect said he would give documents to police he claimed would rebut the charges.

Police later took Pol Lt Col Banyin to the Bangkok South Criminal Court to request approval for his first 12-day detention period, and opposed his request for court bail.

He was subsequently allowed bail of 5 million baht on a surety, warned not to tamper with the evidence and prohibited from leaving the country without the court’s prior approval.

Shares owned by Chuwong worth 228 million baht were transferred to Ms Kanthana, who is pregnant and claims she is carrying his baby, a few days before he was found dead in a car that had a minor crash in Prawet district on June 26. The vehicle was driven by Pol Lt Col Banyin. Ms Kanthana faces the same charges as Pol Lt Col Banyin.

Police allege the pair worked in collusion with Ms Uracha, who is charged with theft and document forgery, and her mother Srithara, charged with stealing and receiving stolen assets. Ms Uracha, who received 40 million baht worth of shares from Chuwong through her mother’s account, earlier said she also had an intimate relationship with the late business tycoon.