The courts have accepted a defamation lawsuit against Rangsiman Rome for publicly disclosing the record of a parliamentary debate in which he alleged that Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun was involved in money laundering.
On 11 July 2023, it was reported by several media websites including Thai PBS, Matichon and PPTV that the Criminal Court had scheduled a preliminary hearing in the lawsuit filed by Senator Upakit Pachariyangkun against Move Forward Party (MFP) MP Rangsiman Rome for defamation by publication.
The charge stems from the parliamentary debate held on 15 February 2023, when Rangsiman revealed the military-appointed senator’s alleged links to drug trafficking and money laundering. The MFP MP mentioned Upakit’s alleged involvement with Allure P&E, a company used for money laundering by Tun Minn Latt, a Myanmar tycoon close to the Myanmar coup-maker. Tun Minn Latt is currently detained pending trial on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.
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, while his son-in-law Dean Young Gultula was allegedly a former shareholder and board member of both companies.
It was also found that Upakit was wanted for arrest in connection with an alleged drug trafficking and money laundering ring operating out of a casino in the Golden Triangle, but the warrant was quickly withdrawn.
Upakit noted that Rangsiman’s speech could lead to public misunderstanding and cause damage to his reputation. He is seeking damages of 100 million baht.
The court concluded that disclosing a video clip during a parliamentary debate is a right protected by parliamentary privilege. But Rangsiman released the clip on his private online account, which is considered defamation by publication. The court accepted there was sufficient evidence for the lawsuit and notified Rangsiman of the charge. Hearings are scheduled for 21 August 2023.