June 5, 2017 / 8:19 AM / 3 years ago

Former Land and Houses chairman charged as money laundering probe widens

BANGKOK, June 5 (Reuters) - The former chairman of Thailand’s Land and Houses Pcl, a real estate firm with interests in banking and the financial sector, was charged with money laundering on Monday, police said.

Anant Asavabhokhin resigned last month from his position as chairman of LH Financial Group, which he had held since 2009, following a police summons over land sales tied to an embezzlement case of the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative, which lost millions of dollars. He denied any wrongdoing to reporters.

“We filed charges of conspiring and money laundering,” Kajornsak Puttanuparb, a public prosecutor, told reporters. “Anant denied the charges.”

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation, under the justice ministry, said Anant was found to have links to a 46-rai (7.4-hectare) land purchase by the former president of the Klongchan Credit Union, Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who is serving a 16-year prison term for embezzlement.

Anant told reporters he needed 60 days to prepare documents to counter the accusations.

He added that he does not know Supachai.

The case is part of a larger investigation involving the controversial Dhammakaya temple, whose former abbot, Phra Dhammachayo, 72, is wanted on charges of money laundering and encroachment on public land.

In March, police raided the temple compound, but failed to find Phra Dhammachayo.

There have been 350 cases against him and his temple so far. (Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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