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Over $10 million in assets seized from former Thai investigation chief in corruption scandal

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of Thailand has seized over 386 million baht ($10.59 million USD) from Tharit Pengdit, former DSI Director-General. The assets, accumulated during his tenure, prompted investigations revealing massive unexplained wealth and suspicious transactions.



The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of Thailand has confirmed the seizure of assets worth over 386 million baht (approximately $10.59 million USD) from Mr Tharit Pengdit, the former Director-General of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

The assets were confiscated in two separate cases due to charges of unusual wealth accumulation during his tenure.The first case, resolved prior to the recent developments, led to the forfeiture of 341.80 million baht.

On 19 March 2024, a further 44.63 million baht in assets was seized in a subsequent ruling by the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct, Section 3, bringing the total value of seized assets to exceed the initial estimates.

Mr Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, Secretary-General of the NACC, detailed these outcomes in a press conference.  He highlighted that Tharit was found to have amassed significant wealth anomalously while serving as the Director-General of the DSI.  As a result, the court mandated the seizure of his assets totaling 44,630,426 baht, which will be forfeited to the state.

Further investigations into Tharit’s financial activities revealed an alarming increase in his asset base and a corresponding decrease in debt, involving properties registered under the names of Tharit, Mrs Watsamon Pengdit, Mr Piyarerk Atthakarnrat, Mr Sanchai Srithongkul, and Piyathanawat Company Limited.

Following these findings, the Civil Court had earlier issued a judgment on 27 September 2018, which was referred to the Attorney General to ensure the transfer of these assets to the government.

The inquiry also led to suspicions about additional assets under the names of Ms Suthima Chandakoon, Ms Thanyathorn Danwiboon, and Police Lieutenant Colonel Itthiphon Bunphinij, prompting the NACC to launch a second probe into Tharit’s tenure.

This subsequent investigation concluded that he had accumulated a vast amount of assets illicitly, amounting to 53,512,096 baht.

In a recent verdict dated 19 March 2024, the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct, Region 3, determined that the assets obtained through unusual means, including accrued interest, must be transferred to the state.

This decision aligns with the Organic Act on Prevention and Suppression of Corruption, B.E. 2542 and B.E. 2018, which dictate stringent measures against corruption.The court has also ordered Tharit to provide all relevant documents for the assets totaling 44,630,426 baht and to facilitate the transfer of ownership to the government through the Ministry of Finance.

Failure to comply will lead to direct enforcement by the court. If Tharit is unable to transfer the assets as required, he must compensate with equivalent value or face additional legal action.

Tharit’s fall from grace

Tharit, once a key figure in Thailand’s justice system, found himself at the center of political and legal turmoil stemming from the 2010 crackdown on the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the red shirts.

The red shirts, advocating for the resignation of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, were met with force in a response organized by the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES), which resulted in 99 deaths and injuries to over 2,000 individuals.

Following these events, Tharit, who was a DSI investigator at the time, controversially charged Abhisit and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, with ordering killings.

This led to a lawsuit against Tharit for distortion of facts, filed by Abhisit and Suthep. The Supreme Court eventually dismissed Tharit’s objections regarding the impartiality of the judges and the court’s former president, highlighting their alleged connections with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which was instrumental in the 2013-14 protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, culminating in a coup.

In 2015, NACC made its first major move against Tharit by confiscating 90.2 million baht from what it determined to be ill-gotten wealth.

The following year, the stakes were heightened when the NACC indicted him for being “unusually wealthy,” a term often synonymous with corruption. This indictment led to a request for a court to seize a further 346.6 million baht in assets belonging to him and his wife. Tharit defended himself by claiming that his wealth was the result of legitimate business dealings and stock trading, which he argued the NACC had overlooked.

The legal challenges escalated when, in April 2017, the Prime Minister’s Office took the drastic step of dismissing Tharit from the civil service.

He fought this decision by appealing to the Administrative Court to overturn both the NACC’s indictment and his dismissal. However, in March of the previous year, the court dismissed his petition, citing the seriousness of his misconduct.

Tharit’s fall from grace was further cemented in July 2019 when he was stripped of his royal decorations following convictions and imprisonment in two criminal cases.

In one significant legal battle, initiated by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, Tharit and his co-defendants were initially found not guilty by the Criminal Court in September 2018 of unfairly bringing criminal charges against the plaintiffs. Nonetheless, this verdict was overturned by the Appeals Court in March 2020, resulting in a two-year prison sentence for each of the defendants.

Tharit continued to seek legal recourse by appealing to the Supreme Court, which was scheduled to deliver its verdict on December 16, 2021.

Despite multiple postponements at Tharit’s request—a total of six times—the court ultimately refused his plea for a seventh deferral, underscoring the end of a long and tumultuous legal saga.

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S.E.Asian countries are totaly infected with corrupt gov officials..
A minister/ gov officers job is very lucrative in such places…at the expense of the long suffering citizens …being “robbed” of funds to better their living conditions…like roads…housing..etc