Pasit “Sin Sae Shogun” Ariyalapit, the founder and chief executive of food supplement firm WealthEver, and eight people who were her relatives and close aides, on Friday pleaded not guilty in the Criminal Court to charges of fraud charges over a much-publicised tour scam. The defendants said they would find their own lawyers to fight the charges, hence the judge has set the evidence review session
The 30-year-old Pasit, eight others, and her company were indicted on Thursday on five charges linked to an alleged pyramid investment scheme and a travel junket debacle that left more than 1,000 would-be tourists stranded at Suvarnabhumi Airport in April.
The charges included public fraud, racketeering, and violation of the emergency decree on Obtaining Loans Amounting to Public Cheating and Fraud, the Computer Act, the Customs Act and the Food and Drug Act.
Prosecutors from the Department of Economic Crime Litigation also demanded that the defendants pay compensation plus an annual interest of 7.5 per cent [until the full payment is made] to 871 alleged victims who had filed formal complaints claiming damages worth over Bt50 million.
Besides calling for heavy punishments for the defendants, the prosecutors also asked the court not to grant bail to any of the defendants, who had been in detention since their arrests in April, because they might flee or tamper with evidence. They also argued that this case involving cheating of many people would hurt the Thai economy and society.