A high-profile crypto case involving a well-known actor and model has come to public attention in Thailand following the enforcement of the country’s crypto regulations. Over 5,564 BTC were reportedly stolen from a bitcoin millionaire. The alleged ringleader has fled to the U.S. Thailand’s main crypto regulator is cooperating with the police on the case.
High-Profile Crypto Case
A high-profile crypto fraud case has recently gained public attention in Thailand following the implementation of the country’s cryptocurrency regulations. The case involves a well-known, 27-year-old soap actor and model, Jiratpisit Jaravijit, also known as “Boom”.
The actor, his sister, brother, and six others allegedly defrauded a 22-year-old Finnish bitcoin millionaire out of 5,564.4 BTC, the Bangkok Post reported.
According to police, Aarni Otava Saarimaa and his business partner were “lured into buying shares in three companies and investing in a casino and new cryptocurrency known as Dragon Coins but had seen no returns at all on the money they put in,” the publication elaborated, adding:
They also talked the victims into believing the Dragon Coins would be used at a casino in Macao, which they took them to visit to add weight to their claim. After receiving the bitcoins from the victims, the gang sold the cryptocurrency and transferred the money into various bank accounts.
Arresting the Gang
Boom was arrested last week at a filming location in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district after police found that he received part of the swindled money; he was later released on bail, the news outlet detailed.
His brother and the alleged ringleader, Prinya Jaravijit, already fled the country to the U.S. via South Korea. The Thai police’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD) which is investigating the case is asking U.S. authorities to help track him down. Boom’s sister will be turning herself in on Wednesday, according to INN News.
The CSD learned of this case in January when Saarimaa’s Thai business partner, Chonnikan Kaeosali, filed a complaint, the Bangkok Post conveyed. The Finnish bitcoiner was approached by the fraudsters in June last year.
Led by deputy commander Pol Col Chakrit Sawasdee, the CSD began gathering evidence to request arrest warrants for Boom, his siblings and six other suspects. “The Jaravijit siblings face charges of money laundering after investigators found they had purchased a number of plots of land recently,” the publication described, adding that they are likely to face fraud charges too.
“This case is complicated. We had to carefully examine documents and trace the money trail. We collaborated with Amlo [the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office] and it took us almost seven months to get approval for the arrest warrants for the first group,” Pol Col Chakrit was quoted by the news outlet. He elaborated:
A total of 51 bank accounts have been frozen and 14 plots of land worth 176 million baht [~US$5,291,403] have been frozen as the investigation into the scheme proceeds…The money needs to be frozen and brought back to the victims.
Thai SEC’s Warning
As the case unfolds, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the main regulator of cryptocurrencies in the country, issued a statement warning the public of crypto-related frauds.
On August 9, Voice TV reported that Mr. Rapee Sucharitakul, Secretary-General of the Thai SEC, commented that Boom’s case may be a violation of the country’s new crypto regulations or a criminal act. Nonetheless, the SEC will collaborate with the police on the case, he confirmed.
The SEC also urged the public to be cautious when approached to invest in cryptocurrencies or crypto-related projects, emphasizing that some schemes do not involve real investments.
For initial coin offering (ICO) tokens, the regulator revealed that currently no permit has been granted to any token issuers or ICO portals.
Companies already operating crypto businesses prior to May 14 that have applied for a temporary license by August 14 are allowed to keep operating temporarily until further notice. New businesses must obtain approval prior to starting crypto operations, the regulator clarified.
What do you think of this Thai crypto fraud case? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Thai SEC, Instagram, and Mgr Online.
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Soon after Thailand adopted its regulations for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), companies reportedly pile up to apply for licenses to operate in the country. According to the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission, about 50 ICO projects are seeking to launch, five portals plan to open for business and 20 crypto exchanges have applied for a license.
Preliminary Surge – 20 Exchanges, 50 ICOs
Thailand’s regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and ICOs went into effect on July 16. The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the main regulator of the country’s crypto industry, began accepting applications for crypto licenses on July 24.
On Wednesday, the SEC revealed the number of companies that have applied for various licenses or are interested in applying, local media reported.
According to Mr. Rapee Sucharitakul, the SEC secretary-general, about 50 projects have shown interest in issuing tokens. Five companies are interested in becoming ICO portals, three of which have already applied. As for crypto exchanges, citing that “license approvals are being processed,” the Bangkok Post quoted him saying:
There are also around 20 companies that have applied for licenses to operate as digital asset exchanges.
Coin Asset’s ATM
Among companies that have applied for a license is Coin Asset, a six-month-old Thai crypto exchange with about 10,000 users. The exchange currently processes approximately 2-3 million baht (~US$60,186 – $90,279) daily, CEO Suvanus Yamdee told Prachachat Turakij newspaper.
The company has a 90-day temporary license to operate an exchange while its application with the SEC is being reviewed, the publication noted.
The exchange has also applied for a license to operate crypto ATMs, which it unveiled last week. Claiming that the ATM is the first of its kind among Asean countries, Mr. Suvanus explained that it supports multiple fiat currencies – the baht, euros, yuan, and dollars. With a minimum transaction amount of 100 baht (~$3), the ATM allows customers to buy and sell BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC, XMR, and DASH.
If approved, the team plans to install the ATMs at Thailand’s major international airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang, as well as in Chiang Mai.
Bright Crypto Future
When a company files for a crypto business license in Thailand, the “market regulator will forward documents to the finance ministry within 90 days,” the Bangkok Post described. The finance ministry will make a decision within 60 days.
Applicants must meet a number of criteria such as being a listed firm in Thailand and having the required paid-up capital, the news outlet explained. “The directors, executives and company shareholders must also have SEC approval.”
Thuntee Sukchotrat, the CEO of Jibex, a local exchange backed by IT company J.I.B. Computer Group, was quoted saying:
I believe that investors will invest in digital assets instead of stocks in the future…The investment ratio of ICOs to stocks will be on par within two years.
This week, the country’s central bank also green-lighted subsidiaries of financial institutions for crypto activities.
Do you think many more crypto companies will apply for licenses in Thailand? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Prachachat Turakij.
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