After his repeated public denials, Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun’s business links to Tun Min Latt, a Myanmar tycoon close to coup-maker, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, were revealed in a recent parliamentary debate.
Rangsiman Rome while giving a parliamentary speech.
The matter was raised by Rangsiman Rome, a Move Forward Party (MFP) lawmaker, during the parliamentary session on 15 February 2023. In his speech, he accused Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha of mingling with corrupt figures and overlooking his pledge to systematically address drug-related issues.
Rangsiman noted that Upakit was not only the founder and former major shareholder of the Thailand-based Allure Group (P&E) Co Ltd but also a co-founder of Myanmar Allure along with Tun Min Latt. Upakit’s son-in-law Dean Young Gultula was said to be a former shareholder and board member of both companies.
In Thailand, a court case is currently proceeding against Tun, Dean, and two other individuals, referred to as “P” and “N”, for using the Allure Group (P&E) to launder drug money through electricity purchases.
The four are currently being held in a Thai prison.
Rangsiman showed what he said were leaked online chats between the senator and people related to the case. Among other things, the chat revealed that Upakit ordered “P” to register Allure P&E. Another chat shows that P later sent him the company’s financial report along with information on his share of the income.
In her messages to Upakit, P addressed the senator as “boss.” Leaked chats also showed that the senator was involved in issues ranging from the design of the company’s logo through to the location of its offices.
According to Rangsiman, P told the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) that she held shares in the company as a nominee for other individuals.
Another leak indicates that Tun requested that Upakit make “N”, another defendant in the case, a company board member. Tun also sent Upakit bank slips for purchasing electric current, using his nickname ‘Ou’ in the correspondence.
Chats Rangsiman said belong to Upakit and Tun Min Latt. (Image: Facebook/Rangsiman Rome)
In addition, Rangsiman revealed that Upakit asked Tun to forge the signature of another Allure Group major stakeholder who has yet to be apprehended, Pannarong Khunpitak, an online gambling kingpin. Upakit apparently attached a copy of Pannarong’s passport in the chat as well.
Rangsiman notes that the chats all took place in 2020-2021, at a time when Upakit was already a senator. His claim is a challenge to the Corporate’s record showing Upakit’s leave before he took up a senate seat in 2019.
In addition to the chats, Rangsiman presented a court order of 3 October 2022 which overturned a Criminal Court decision to issue an arrest warrant for Upakit. Tun and the other defendants in the case were arrested in September.
The warrant was reportedly issued in the morning only to be retracted in the afternoon. The reason, according to Rangsiman, was that Upakit was an “important person” who should be summoned but not arrested.
The statement reaffirmed the October 2022 findings of Prachatai and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) that Upakit’s arrest warrant had been quickly retracted.
Continuing his speech, Rangsiman cited a Justice for Myanmar report that in 1999, Tun’s father helped Upakit to construct an Allure Resort near the Myanmar border town of Tachiliek. The resort allegedly housed a casino and entertainment venue. 6 percent of its income was distributed directly to the Myanmar military. In essence, Upakit’s business activities profited the Tatmadaw.
After revealing Upakit’s shady business dealings, the MFP lawmaker moved on to discuss a plot of land on Bangkok’s robust Ari soi 5 which belongs to the senator. He noted that it is now the site of the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party office, a newly established organisation that Gen Prayut has officially joined.
A graphic of the land and office in Ari Soi 5 Rangsiman said belongs to Upakit, now used as an office for Ruam Thai Sang Chart party. (Image: Facebook/Rangsiman Rome)
Rangsiman questioned whether Gen Prayut, or the senate selection committee led by his brother-in-arms Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, had bothered to investigate Upakit’s activities. He also speculated that they were not only aware of Upakit’s business but had given him a role in national politics so that he could help them cling to the power.
“The coincidental appearance of so many irregularities sends a clear signal that any effort to bring charges against this “big shot” senator will stopped. Such coordination suggests …manipulation behind the scenes… The one who has long benefitted from Senator ‘Ou’, the man who wants to continue making use of him is Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.”
“Clearly, then, Gen Prayut’s appointment of Upakit as a senator is the correct decision. Not only will it help with the vote for his nomination as Prime Minister, but it will also help to build the new party. This said, I would like Gen Prayut to explain if the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party has contracted to rent the land and the building or not? If so, for how much? Or is it an act of generosity, a free lease?” Rangsiman asked.