Fifth suspect in Srisuwan extortion case sought by central investigation bureauLegacy

The ongoing high-profile Srisuwan extortion case is set to take another twist, as the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) Deputy Commissioner, Jaroonkiat Pankaew, announced on Monday that they are seeking an arrest warrant for a fifth suspect. This individual is considered less significant to the case compared to the four who have already been apprehended.

The quartet detained last week, including known petitioner Srisuwan Janya and his alleged accomplices – Yoswaris Chuklom, Phimnattha Chiraphutthiphak, and Eakluck Wareechol, are believed to have played a pivotal role in the extortion attempts. They were all later released on bail.

The allegations suggest that the group, spearheaded by Srisuwan, attempted to extort money from the Rice Department (RD) Director-General, Natthakit Khongthip, following his appointment as department chief. Srisuwan, Yoswaris, and Phimnattha are accused of demanding three million baht (US$83,817), a sum that was later negotiated down to 1.5 million baht (US$41,908). Srisuwan was detained at his residence in Pathum Thani when undercover police officers delivered 500,000 baht (US$13,969) of the bribe to his home. All three refute the extortion charges and have a two-week window to submit written defences.

“An arrest warrant for the fifth suspect could be issued on Wednesday or Thursday,” stated Jaroonkiat, following a meeting on Monday to discuss case progress and strategies to expand the investigation. To date, over 10 individuals, including RD officials, have been called in to provide statements. The case involves a significant amount of evidence that needs to be reviewed, he added.

Time pressure on anti-corruption police

The suspects had intended to deposit the extorted funds into bank accounts, opened by proxies who were aware of the crime. Jaroonkiat further revealed that Srisuwan’s wife has not yet been interviewed by the police, and it is possible that other individuals may have been targeted by the suspects. The police are prepared to open new cases should any more victims come forward.

The anti-corruption police are under pressure to conclude the investigation swiftly. Owing to limited staff and potential expansion of the case involving multiple witnesses and evidence collection, there are concerns about meeting the deadline for submitting the investigation summary to the prosecutors. However, Jaroonkiat remains confident, stating there is still ample time to solidify the case.

Investigators are optimistic about wrapping up the summary and presenting it to the prosecutors within the next two months, reported Bangkok Post.

In related news, the extortion racket linked to anti-corruption advocate Srisuwan Janya has expanded, revealing a well-structured operation. Police make significant progress, implicating more individuals at higher levels.

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Author: Mitch Connor