General Surachate Hakparn, known as ‘The Big Joke’, has been suspended from the Thai police force over allegations of gambling and money laundering links.

Thailand’s acting national police chief has suspended deputy chief Surachate Hakparn and four subordinates accused of involvement in an online gambling network, the Bangkok Post reported, citing a source familiar with the case. Police General Kitrat Panphet signed the suspension order, which took effect on Thursday, 18 April.

In addition to General Surachat Hakparn, nicknamed ‘Big Joke’, the order applies to Songkhla deputy provincial police chief Colonel Kittichai Sangkhathaworn, Samutprakan police station deputy chief Lieutenant Colonel Krit Pariyaket and two traffic patrol officers, Police Sergeant Natthawut Wadwaew and Police Sergeant Natthanan Chuchak. All five are suspected of being involved in money laundering related to the BNK Master gambling network.

General Kitrat decided based on a disciplinary investigation, noting that the courts had approved arrest warrants for the five suspects. The General also discussed the decision with Prime Minister Seththaya Thavisin at Government House after Thursday’s cabinet meeting,’ the source said. The five suspects still have the right to appeal against the order.

General Surachate Hakparn appeared before the police on 2 April to answer money laundering charges. The General was subsequently released on bail.

General Surachate Hakparn appeared before the Police on 2 April to answer money laundering charges. The General was subsequently released on bail.

General Surachate Hakparn appeared before the Police on 2 April to answer money laundering charges. The General has subsequently been released on bail.

On 20 March, the Prime Minister transferred General Surachate and National Police Chief Torsak Sukwimol to inactive posts and appointed General Kitrat as acting head of the Royal Thai Police. The two sidelined senior officers had a long-running feud, with periodic public accusations of involvement in illegal gambling networks.

General Surachate appeared before Police on 2 April to answer money laundering charges just hours after investigators obtained an arrest warrant for the General. General Surachate was subsequently released on bail.

A commission set up by the Prime Minister to investigate the case recently said there were grounds for allegations that General Surachate was involved in money laundering.

On Thursday, General Kitrat also formed a new investigation committee to look into the role of the five suspended suspects. The committee comprises 14 police officers with ranks ranging from lieutenant colonel to General.

Gen Sarawut Karnpanich, deputy national police chief, heads the committee, along with Lieutenant General Nopawat Arayangkun, deputy chief inspector of Police, and Major General Montri Teschan, head of the crime division.

General Kitrat Panphet has been acting national police chief since last month when Prime Minister Settha Thaweesin transferred General Thorsak Sukwimol, who had been serving as national police chief, and General Surachat Hakparn to inactive posts in the prime minister’s office while the allegations are investigated.

The new commission will follow up on an earlier investigation by a committee that included detectives from the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau. The earlier investigation found that the administrator of the gambling site BNK Master transferred money to a bank account belonging to Lt Col Krit, albeit in someone else’s name.

The money was then transferred from the Lieutenant Colonel’s account to the accounts of two suspected sergeants who were ordered to cash the money and deliver the envelopes to General Surachat’s residence. Investigators found that the transactions took place between 8 February and 3 November 2022.

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