UFUN woman surrenders to Thai police

UFUN woman surrenders to Thai police

Another Thai woman accused of being involved in the allegedly fraudulent UFUN Thailand scheme surrendered to assistant national police chief Suwira Songmetta and the Consumer Protection Police Division yesterday.

Hansa Thara-bundit said she surrendered to express her sincerity and show she had no intent to flee. She said she had just returned from running errands in Surat Thani.

The 36-year-old is among 12 people facing charges of obtaining loans in a fraudulent manner that cheated the public. Six of the 12 are now in custody.

Hansa claimed that documents indicating she was linked to UFUN was the result of her 41-year-old sister, Namonpan Thara-bundit, using a photocopy of her ID card to open an investment port in UFUN and registering her as a partner in the company.

She said she found out later but didn't say anything because she didn't think it would be a problem.

She admitted, however, that she was interested in the business and attended a number of related events with Namonpan. She also opened a bank account in her name for Namonpan to manage transactions.

"I didn't get money from [the company] and wasn't involved with the company," she insisted, adding that Bt500,000 police had found came from her husband's cell-phone business. She said they also sold medical equipment and had construction businesses.

After the scandal surfaced this month, four men were arrested and then Namonpan was apprehended on Thursday while trying to leave Thailand via the border province of Nong Khai.

On Friday, Suwira led officials to search Hansa's house in Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka district and seized two cars and a safe box.

Police were yesterday scheduled to transfer 10 seized cars and seized assets worth Bt100 million (S$4 million) to the Anti-Money Laundering Office so it cold further probe the case.

No plan to shut website

Suwira said police wouldn't close the UFUN website because the firm would use that as excuse to not pay its members.

The Criminal Court yesterday refused to grant Namonpan bail after she offered Bt3 million as surety. She had 9,000 shares in the company, making her a key suspect in an alleged fraud that caused huge damage to others and an escape candidate.

Namonpan, who denied any wrongdoing, will be held at the Central Women Correctional Institution in Bang Khen pending the police investigation until April 29 in her first 12-day detention period.

UFUN was registered to operate as a direct-sales company but sold U-Token electronic investment units instead and allegedly swindled 100,000 people out of Bt20 billion, police said.

In related news, gay rights activist Natee Teerarojpong, a UFUN members, said he wanted to meet with General Somyos because the activist did not believe it was a fraudulent scheme. Natee insisted the company's trades were done on a voluntary basis and were still ongoing.

He urged the authorities to ensure proper treatment of the many Thais who were members of the company.

Natee said he wanted to tell Somyos that Thais applied for UFUN memberships because they were confident in the Office of the Consumer Protection Board's decision to approve the firm.

He said members had been mentally scarred by the ordeal and did not deserve to be charged with fraud because they didn't cheat anyone.

The firm was still operating and no one had been adversely affected, so it should not be called fraud.

Natee also said UFUN executive chairman Dato Daniel Tay, of Malaysia, had affirmed via YouTube that the company didn't operate a pyramid scheme and had no intention of cheating the public. So, police should give it a chance to prove that.

He said he began investing in UFUN last August and his portfolio with the company had expanded to 2.6 million U-Tokens worth Bt13 million after a capital outlay of Bt35,000.

He said he could withdraw the money anytime but he didn't because he believed in the business.

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