Banker arrested with B15m in cash on way to Cambodia
- By: WASSAYOS NGAMKHAM
- Published: 2/05/2009 at 12:00 AM
- Bangkok Post, section: News
The Crime Suppression Division has arrested a once-outstanding employee of the Government Housing Bank (GHB) in Si Sa Ket province for allegedly embezzling about 400 million baht.
Somkiat Panyaworakhundet, 33, who had previously been recognised as an outstanding staff member of the Government Housing Bank was arrested with 15 million baht in cash yesterday. He was charged with embezzling a total of about 400 million baht from the state-run bank over the past few years. Photos by KOSOL NAKACHOL
CSD deputy chief Pol Col Supisal Phakdeenarunart said the division's officers arrested Somkiat Panyaworakhundet, 33, a teller at GHB's Saint Louis Soi 3 branch, foiling his attempts to leave the country at the same time.
Mr Somkiat was arrested yesterday morning as he was driving his brand-new BMW 5 Series along the Nakhon Ratchasima-Buri Ram Road in Si Sa Ket province, heading in the direction of the Thai-Cambodian border.
Earlier GHB president Khan Prachuabmoh asked the CSD to arrest Mr Somkiat after discovering irregular movements of money through his accounts. Suspicion started when ATM-supervising staff of GHB tracked the irregular movements.
The finding led to the conclusion that Mr Somkiat had embezzled about 400 million baht from GHB.
CSD Sub-division 1 chief Pol Col Pornsak Surasit said the suspect was aware that the police were hunting him, so he was trying to escape with the cash to the neighbouring country. Police managed to arrest him just before he reached Cambodia, the officer said.
It was reported that police seized about 15 million baht in cash from the banker.
Pol Col Pornsak said that in a subsequent search of Mr Somkiat's luxurious house in the Lat Phrao area, police found expensive audio systems, furniture and another brand-new luxury BMW sedan. The house is estimated to be worth about 40 million baht.
Police found that Mr Somkiat's bank accounts held about 400 million baht.
The GHB president said the suspect had not embezzled any money from the bank's clients, but that he had made off with the cash that belonged to the bank.
Mr Khan described GHB's first case of embezzlement as shocking.
Mr Somkiat’s brand-new BMW 5 Series car was seized by Crime Suppression Division police yesterday. KOSOL NAKACHOL
Mr Somkiat allegedly abused his authority as a teller by transferring some 700,000-900,000 baht from GHB's interest accounts into his personal bank accounts every day for a year-and-a-half.
He allegedly made about 30 transfers per day, with each transfer amounting to 30,000 baht.
Transfers were made via ATMs to numerous accounts Mr Somkiat had opened with several banks located in the Siam Square area of Bangkok's Pathumwan district.
According to Mr Khan, Mr Somkiat made the transfers after working hours, a time when GHB had already finished its daily clearing.
"Mr Somkiat showed no signs of irregularities at all. He acted like an ordinary office worker who came to work by bus," Mr Khan said.Mr Somkiat had won an award for being an outstanding member of GHB's staff, and he had earned the trust of clients at the branch he worked at, the bank's president said.
As he was an outstanding staff member, the bank's management had not initially suspected him of the crime.
Mr Somkiat said briefly in a press conference yesterday that he did not have any gambling debts, but that he just wanted the money to buy his house, cars and other belongings.