UFUN suspects smuggled Bt776m so far, Thai police say

The four suspects who were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly trying to smuggle Bt22.7 million cash into Malaysia are believed to have withdrawn and smuggled up to Bt776 million over the past year, police claimed yesterday.

The suspects are linked to the UFUN alleged pyramid scheme.

Assistant national police chief Pol Lt-General Suwira Songmetta said three Thais - Niphaphorn Lamee, 36; Theerawaj Phatcharasuyayai, 21; and Natthawaran Uttamakaew, 24 - and one Malaysian, Boon Kiat Choo, had opened bank accounts for UFUN members to wire money into. They then allegedly withdrew this money and smuggled it into Malaysia for laundering purposes.

Police investigation of the four suspects’ accounts showed that they had allegedly withdrawn and possibly smuggled Bt779 million over the past year, he said, adding that three Thais had authorised the Malaysian man to make withdrawals from their accounts.

The gang allegedly made withdrawals of Bt2 million each several times a day, he said, adding that one day as many as nine withdrawals were made.

Once across the border, the cash was passed on to a Penang resident and Choo was given a commission of Bt1,000 for each Bt1 million. Meanwhile, Theerawaj said he was paid Bt2,000 a month to authorise the withdrawals and another Bt7,000 to close the account, police said.

Suwira added that investigators were contacting banks because they wanted to look into another 16 bank accounts that Choo had allegedly opened to accommodate deposits made by UFUN members.

Choo, who also carries a Thai passport under the name of Chaisong Wanatbodiwong as he has a Thai father and a Malaysian mother, said he had opened many bank accounts for business, including one for UFUN members to deposit money into. He also admitted that he had asked the three Thai suspects to also open accounts, adding that they did not know how much he withdrew each day.