Business 8 November 2018

Dennis Wafula

Thai siblings linked to $24M crypto scam plead not guilty

The three siblings arrested in Thailand on allegations of fraudulently tricking a Finnish investor into shelling out over $24 million in cryptocurrency have pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges.

On Wednesday, the Bangkok Post reported that Prinya Jaravijit and his younger siblings, Jiratpisit and Supitcha, appeared before the Criminal Court where they were arraigned on collusion and conspiracy to launder money charges.

Prosecutors told the court the three, along with six other accomplices, lured Finn investor Aamai Otava Saarimaa into investing with them during the June-July period in 2017. According to the report, Saarimaa was tricked into buying 500 million DNA Co. shares, purchasing Expay Software Co. shares., and investing in an NX Chain Inc. project called Dragon Coin.

During that period, Saarimaa sent funds several times to an electronic wallet which belonged to Jaravijit. However, a few months later, the defendants decided to sell the digital assets, worth THB797.41 million ($24 million) at the time, which investigators said they deposited into their own accounts.

Prosecutors said the defendants spent the money—Jiratpisit reportedly bought land in Chatuchak District in Bangkok for THB43 million ($1 million), while his elder brother Prinya spent THB124 million ($4 million) to buy seven blocks of land in Bangkok’s Chatuchak and Din Daeng districts, as well as in Nonthaburi province.

Supitcha, meanwhile, allegedly spent THB8.5 million ($250,000) in December to register six blocks of land in Chatuchak.

Saarimaa eventually filed a complaint with the Thai Crime Suppression Division (CSD) after his efforts to follow up on his cash bore no fruit.

Jiratpisit and Supitcha were arrested in August, but they were released on bail of THB2 million ($61,000) each. Prinya fled to the United States to avoid the charges. When the Thai CSD revoked his passport, it became illegal for him to reside in the United States, leading to his return to Thailand. On arrival, Prinya was arrested by Thai authorities and charged. He is currently being held in the Bangkok Remand Prison.

The three will be back in court on December 24 for the examination of witnesses and evidence lists.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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