BANGKOK — Thailand’s former national police chief, who currently heads the Thai Football Association, met Thursday with investigators to explain his financial links with a fugitive massage parlor owner accused of human trafficking.
Somyot Poompanmoung reported to the Department of Special Investigation — Thailand’s FBI — in the wake of his admission that while serving as top policman he borrowed 300 million baht (almost $9.5 million) from Kampol Wirathepsuporn.
Kampol is owner of the Victoria Secret massage parlor, which also operated as a brothel, and has been charged with at least 12 separate counts, many related to human trafficking.
Police raids in January revealed that the massage parlor employed underage women and allegedly trafficked some of them into the sex trade. Investigators also discovered that police officers had received sexual favors from staff. Police have raided several other venues that Kampol owns.
Somyot told reporters he was interviewed by investigators as a witness, but declined to elaborate.
Supat Thamthanarug, director of the DSI’s anti-trafficking section, said Somyot’s large loan was under investigation but he declined to provide further details.
After news of the charges was made public, Somyot told the media that Kampol was an old friend who shared a love of sacred Buddhist amulets, and had helped him out at a difficult time. He said he had paid the money back and declared the loan to the relevant authorities at the time.
The story provoked widespread comment in Thailand about links between police and the criminal underworld. Newspaper opinion writers condemned the former police chief’s behavior as “shameless.”
Somyot sullied his image even more in a recent media interview in which he said that being Thailand’s top policeman had only been a sideline and that his real job was speculating on the stock market.
Somyot made international headlines in 2015 when he announced a reward of 3 million baht (about $86,000 then) for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators of a deadly Bangkok bomb attack, then awarded it to his own police officers once arrests had been made.
He became head of the Thai Football Association in 2016 after leaving his police post. He took over from Worawi Makudi, who was banned in 2016 from all national and international football-related activities for five years by FIFA, the international governing body of football, for ethical violations including forgery.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.