The prime suspect in the 797 million Baht (~$25 million USD) crypto scam that roped in one of Thailand’s high profile celebrities is finally under police custody.
Thai police arrested Parinya Jaravijit on October 11 at the country’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Parinya is the elder brother of Jirapisit Jaravijit, a Thai actor popularly known as “Boom.”
No bail permitted
A day after his arrest, Parinya appeared before a judge at the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court for determination of an application to have him detained pending trial. The court ordered that he be held for twelve days, meaning he will be under police detention up to October 23.
According to local news outlet The Nation, the suspect’s had failed in their frantic efforts to have him released on bail. The publication says that his lawyer’s had asked the court to release him on a 20 million baht bail.
However, the police rejected his bail application on the basis that the suspect was a flight risk. Police prosecutors also argued that the case had caused extensive damages.
Apart from being the key suspect in the crypto scam involving 797 million baht worth of Bitcoin, Parinya Jaravijit also faces separate double charges linking him to money laundering and fraud.
After his arrest at the Airport, Parinya faced a night-long interrogation by police detectives. His lawyers were present during the questioning.
Parinya was wanted by the police in connection to the case but had allegedly fled to the U.S. However, according to Pol Colonel Chakrit Sawasdee, the U.S immigration police blocked the suspect’s entry into the country since his passport had been revoked.
Thus, though he has maintained his innocence, Parinya had no option but to go back to Thailand.
Celebrity caught in Bitcoin Scam
The Bitcoin scam in Thailand has elicited widespread interest from the public due to the alleged involvement of a famous actor.
In August, Thai police apprehended Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, one of the country’s top actors, in connection to a cryptocurrency-based scheme.
According to the law enforcement officers, Jiratpisit was among a gang that had deceptively swindled a Finnish businessman of his BTC.
It was alleged that the gang tricked the Finn into transferring Bitcoins to the suspects, telling him that he would be buying shares in several companies that had invested in an initial coin offering (ICO) of the startup Dragon Coin.
The victim is said to have transferred the Bitcoins, worth 797 million baht at the time, to the fraudsters’ wallet.
But the Finnish businessman Aarni Saarimaa became suspicious after the said investment companies failed to invite him to board meetings. Police followed up on his complaint and eventually arrested Jiratpisit alongside seven accomplices. They included Jiratpisit’s siblings Thanasit Jaravijit and Supitcha.
After being held briefly, Jiratpisit secured a release on a police bail bond of 2 million baht. The bail condition was that the actor, who maintains innocence in the case, should not attempt to leave the country.
Thai authorities say that the suspects’ bank statements showed huge deposits done supposedly after converting the crypto into fiat. At the time of the initial arrests, police reportedly confiscated several assets, all valued at about 200 million baht (~$6.1 million USD).
Last week, the police indicated that Parinya’s parents would also be charged with money laundering on Oct. 17.
Authorities also announced that two of the initial suspects (businessman Chakris Ahmad and investor Prasit Srisuwan) no longer faced charges after the complainant dropped all charges against them.