‘Big Joke’ Denies Involvement With Online Gambling Networks

On Thursday, Deputy National Police Chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, also known as ‘Big Joke’, refuted claims of his involvement in online gambling networks and noted that no charges have been pressed against him so far.

He addressed the speculation that emerged earlier in the week, stating that since his residence was searched last year, no legal actions have been taken against him.

Pol Gen Surachate highlighted that only cases involving eight others, some of whom are his team members, have been forwarded to the legal authorities.

In response to questions about allegations of an investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) focused on him and four others, Pol Gen Surachate acknowledged that the anti-corruption body has received a complaint.

However, he pointed out that the NACC has not started any formal actions against the individuals mentioned in the complaint.

He explained that even if the NACC decides to proceed with the case, an investigation would need to be conducted to decide on pressing charges.

During a Wednesday press conference, Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, the Deputy Commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), announced an investigation into Pol Gen Surachate and four others.

They are under scrutiny for possible involvement with the online gambling network operated by Suchanun Sucharitchinsri, also known as “Minnie.”

The accusations encompass misconduct and bribery, breaches of sections 157 and 149 of the Criminal Code.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat explained that the NACC is leading the investigation due to the involvement of senior police officers but suggested police involvement could expedite the process given the extensive number of suspects, totaling 61.

Pol Gen Surachate criticized the suggestion for the NACC to pass the investigation to the police, questioning the authority to make such demands.

“Who are you to pressure the NACC? This is clearly overstepping the mark,” Pol Gen Surachate said.

He clarified that he was not responsible for combating online gambling websites and, therefore, was not involved in any illicit activities, including receiving kickbacks.

He mentioned that if the investigation uncovers asset laundering exceeding 300 million baht, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) would intervene.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat reiterated on Thursday that there was no intention to pressure the NACC into handing over the investigation but believed police handling could speed up the process due to their prior involvement in a related case.

Regarding the ongoing investigation into the gambling network’s financial transactions, the deputy chief of the CIB mentioned that there is evidence to support the claims against the accused individuals.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stated on Thursday that Pol Gen Surachate is to be considered innocent until proven guilty, emphasizing his right to defend himself.

When queried about whether the allegations were aimed at discrediting Pol Gen Surachate and affecting his chances for the chief police position, the prime minister chose not to comment.