A dozen Pattaya expats said they’ve been defrauded out of millions of baht by a former bank assistant branch manager in a scam that may have affected hundreds of unwitting investors.
The foreigners and their Thai wives filed complaints with Pattaya police Feb. 2, alleging that Chaisit Sapphoemphull stole funds transferred from overseas and duped them into investing in bogus mutual funds over the past year.
Chaisit was arrested two weeks ago after the bank discovered he had been giving outdated passbooks and documents to customers instead of destroying them as required by bank procedures.
The bank allegedly did not inform the defrauded customers of Chaisit’s arrest. The former assistant manager is now behind bars at Pattaya Remand Prison after the Pattaya Provincial Court denied a bail request.
While the 12 victims were the only ones to publicly disclose their police complaints, other media outlets claimed without proof there were hundreds of other victims, including a Chinese man who supposedly lost 130 million baht. Police have not confirmed additional victims.
The scam was unearthed after some of those who filed reports Tuesday updated passbooks at other bank branches and found the balances did not match what was shown in their bank books. When they inquired about the discrepancies, they were told the passbooks were obsolete and the transfer slips not versions used by the bank.
Some victims said they had transferred tens of millions of baht from overseas to secure retirement visas, property and to use as income. The money was shown as deposited in their bogus bank books, but not actually put in their accounts.
In other cases, victims were lured into investing in a too-good-to-be-true mutual fund paying annualized interest rates of 42 percent.
Pattaya police chief Pol. Col. Pisit Poonsub promised a fair investigation for both Thai and foreign victims and said more charges likely will be laid against Chaisit, who was jailed on embezzlement charges.
Other media sources cited unnamed sources alleging that the bank in question has disavowed the assistant manager’s actions and said the bank customers would not be reimbursed for their losses. However, the bank has not commented publicly.
The Thai government offers a conditional guarantee of depositors’ funds.
A leading Thailand bank website states: “From August 11, 2019 Thai Baht Deposits are protected under the Deposit Protection Agency Act up to a maximum of 5 million baht per one depositor per financial institution until August 10, 2021. The Deposit Protection Institution Act took effect on August 11, 2008.”
However, an article in The Nation on Feb. 2, 2019, stated: “The period of protection will last until August 10, 2020 after which the coverage amounts will be reduced to Bt1 million.”