The lawyer for actress Napapa “Patt” Tantrakul who was charged with money laundering last week is confident his client will escape being dragged further into the deepening drugs saga enveloping her husband.
Napapa ‘Patt’ Tantrakul.
Patt, who admits receiving cash payments from her speed racer husband Akarakit “Benz” Worarojcharoendet, whom police suspect has ties to a Laos drugs ring, reported to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) last week to acknowledge the charge, but denied any link to drugs.
Benz was charged on March 6 with laundering money and conspiracy to commit laundering in relation to his alleged links to the ring run by arrested Lao drug kingpin Xaysana Keopimpha.
Last week he was charged with more serious, additional charges of abetting drugs-related offences and accepting assets in return.
These carry much heavier penalties than the charges laid earlier, prompting social media speculation that Patt could end up facing the same fate.
However, her lawyer Akhom Kongsawat scotched the reports, claiming police are unlikely to implicate Patt in the widening scandal in the same way they have her husband.
Police say 100 million baht has passed in and out of Benz’s bank account in the past two years, even though his auto repair business made little money.
They linked 10 people to the transactions, including Patt, and arrested suspect Natthaphol Nakkham, alias Boy, who told police Benz was laundering assets on the gang’s behalf.
The probe against Patt, which started later, shows Benz transferred 1.9 million baht to Patt over a 10-month period ending in February this year. She returned 400,000 baht to him and surrendered to police the remaining 1.5 million baht as they investigate its origins.
Mr Akhom said he would have some good news for Patt’s fans soon, notwithstanding her charge. He was confident she would not be embroiled any further in the saga.
“Police are still investigating but have only a few doubts left about the money in her account,” Mr Akhom said.
“She can account for 628 transactions over the past year, leaving just 18 items where there are problems. In some cases she just can’t remember them. We will try to get evidence to investigators in the next two days.”
Benz received 6 million baht from Boy, and used the proceeds to pay off a Lamborghini. Sirinya Sithichai, secretary of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, backs the NSB’s move to lay new charges against Benz.
He said Patt faces lesser charges than her husband because police could see she was not close to arrested suspect Boy.
“She also shows no sign of supporting the activity, and we believe she received the transfers from Benz in her capacity as his wife,” he said.
NSB commissioner Sommai Kongwisaisuk, who has taken a tough line against Patt’s role in the saga, said the actress originally claimed the 1.9 million baht which Benz sent her was money she earned as an entertainer, only to change her tune later.
“It would have been much easier if she had just owned up from the beginning,” he grumbled as she appeared before the NSB last week to acknowledge her charge.
Police intend sending their case against Benz to prosecutors this week and are wrapping up their case against Patt.
Road rage returns to haunt
Akanat ‘Nott’ Ariyaritwikul.
Disgraced TV presenter Akanat “Nott” Ariyaritwikul is back in the spotlight after news emerged that prosecutors have charged him with assault and forwarded the case to the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court.
Prosecutors have taken up the police case against Nott after he was captured in a notorious video clip in early November last year, punching a city motorcyclist who bumped into his Mini Countryman. He also forced the victim, Kittisak “Boy” Singto, 25, to perform a wai to the vehicle by way of apology.
Songkran Atchariyasap, an outspoken lawyer who has represented the road rage victim, revealed last week prosecutors had filed their case to the court, which would meet on Wednesday to deliberate.
Accompanying Boy and his mother, Suthira Hongthong, before the media, Mr Songkran said Nott, despite promising to compensate his victim in full for the injuries he received, had yet to get in touch or offer any money.
He said Boy has asked to join the prosecutors’s action before the court as a co-plaintiff, and also petitioned the Civil Court so he can claim damages.
Boy said his nose is still askew after Nott attacked him by the roadside. He said he still feels scared when he sees Minis in his travels and hopes the case can come to a speedy conclusion.
Ms Suthira said she didn’t go asking for Nott’s help to pay her son’s hospital bills. “I found the money myself, but he has never visited or called,” she said.
Her family grew suspicious of Nott’s motives when he had someone film an apology he offered her at a police station shortly after the saga took place.
Nott, who has yet to comment on the latest developments, told Mrs Suthira he didn’t have much money as his family was not wealthy.
He was last in the news in December when he abruptly left the monkhood in Chiang Rai after a Bangkok court issued an arrest warrant for him stemming from his road rage attack.
The Criminal Court issued the warrant for Nott after he failed to show at Yannawa police station in Bangkok to hear the results of its probe into the Nov 4 incident.
Phra Nott hurriedly travelled to Bangkok to report to Yannawa investigators, who freed him on bail.
Police charged Nott with assault and coercion. It is not known if he will turn up in court on Wednesday as it decides whether to accept his case.
James rejects gay romance claims
Jirayu ‘James’ Tangsrisuk, right, and Warintorn ‘Great’ Panhakarn.
Actor Jirayu “James” Tangsrisuk is brushing off fan club speculation linking him as a fantasy couple with actor Warintorn “Great” Panhakarn, after the two shared intimate moments at an industry event.
James and Great were filmed last week winding down at rehearsals for a television charity concert where fans enthused they appeared to carry on like gay lovers discovering each other for the first time rather than mere friends.
In some shots, James sits between Great’s legs, as Great cups his chin in his hands, and examines his arm. James also looks up smilingly into Great’s eyes, and in another shot reclines back into his lap, with Great holding him gently around the neck.
The shots set off feverish longing on social media, including the hashtag GreatJames on Twitter, for fans who believe the pair, who appeared together in the TV soap Jutathep Gentlemen, would make a dream couple.
Great, who was the first to respond to the saga, thanked his fans for their attention but insisted they were just friends. James, known for his honey-faced looks and just back from a work trip to Japan, said he was taken aback by the reaction.
“I carry on like that with all my friends. P’ Great and I are really close, but that’s as far as it goes. People tease us, but I don’t know what there is to be embarrassed about. In some cases it might just be the camera angle,” he said.
“I might have so-called sweet face looks, but I am not sweet on men in that manner.”