A Thai net idol has been sentenced to 54 years in jail for running an illegal gambling operation and laundering the profits. Siapo Po-arnon, 30, was the head of a 21-defendant strong gang charged with violating the Gambling Act, the Money Laundering Act and many other offences.
The criminal court heard that Siapo ran a sophisticated operation that was structured like a professional business, split into three departments. An executive group, a financial group, and members who opened bank accounts in their own names to accept bets.
The executive group was a family affair. Siapo,his mother Banyen Channara, his wife Chuthamas Chanthee, his elder brother Phuttharak Chat-anont and Mr Phuttharak’s wife Ploypitcha Patulang.
Phuttharak Chat-anont and Ploypitcha Patulang were granted bail and fled before the trial started. They are currently being hunted by police who are also still trying to track down Banyen Channara.
Financial investigators discovered that 575,323 bets worth 1,760 million baht had been placed and 2,713 money transfers amounting to 841.67 million baht were transacted to launder the proceeds.
Siapo was found guilty of 18 counts of organising and promoting illegal online gambling and 25 further offences of money laundering for a total of 54 years in jail which was later reduced to a maximum of 20 years.
Chuthamas Chanthee was found guilty of two counts of illegal gambling promotion, receiving a six-month sentence.
Phuttharak Chat-anont was sentenced to three months in jail for promoting illegal gambling and his wife received 14 years for seven counts of money laundering in their absence.
Siapo was said to look extremely shocked at the sentence, as if he expected a completely different outcome. Police were also shocked at discovering the identity of the ringleader after he was part of a House working group advising on the possible legalisation of online gambling.
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