A Finnish businessman who was allegedly defrauded of over 5,000 Bitcoins by Thai fraudsters is taking a novel approach to justice.
Aarni Otavi Saarimaa, 22, originally lodged a complaint with police in Thailand when he discovered the crime. However, now, he is setting up negotiations with two people who are accused of being involved in the alleged scam.
Saarimaa has met with Chakris Ahmad, a technology investor, and Prasit Srisuwan, a trader. Allegedly, these two men presented Saarimaa with a series of potential cryptocurrency investments into a series of different companies, including NX Chain Inc, ExpaySoftware and DNA 2002. The alleged scammers are also believed to have told Saarimaa that they had investment opportunities in Dragon Coin, a blockchain-based gambling system, available.
In total, he invested 5,564 Bitcoin in the companies, which at the time of writing is equivalent to just over $40 million US dollars or just above £31 million British pounds.
It is believed that the trio may be about to reach an out of court settlement in return for Saarimaa dropping the claims, a move which would be considered acceptable in Thailand’s legal system – at least for some of the charges. Details of any potential settlement, however, are currently unknown.
There are still significant hurdles to clear. At present, at least one of the alleged participants claims that he has not done anything wrong, and this will need to be resolved prior to any settlement taking place.
Srisuwan says that he was simply a legitimate broker working on Saarimaa’s behalf, and he recently held a press conference stating that he was actually a personal friend of Saarimaa.
In a move that gave an additional twist to an already unusual story, Srisuwan later accused a celebrity actor’s brother as being the one to carry out the alleged fraud.
Prinya Jaravijit has been accused of being the “ringleader” by industry media and is accused of working alongside both his famous brother Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit and less famous sibling Suphitcha Jaravijit.
Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, who has starred in Bad Romance The Series and Nang Ai, was arrested earlier this year. A police investigation revealed that he had almost US$650,000 worth of the thieved Bitcoin in his account.
According to a police source, the “case is complicated”, and there are lots of evidence checks to carry out and other important stages to go through.
“We had to carefully examine documents and trace the money trail,” said Police Colonel Chakrit Sawasdee.
“For the money laundering charge, we are verifying the amount of money with commercial banks only in the accounts of the siblings and their family and relatives. The money needs to be frozen and brought back to the victims.”
A further potential complication for negotiations, however, lies in the fact that there is a money laundering charge, which can’t necessarily be resolved through talks.
“When it is fraud, the complainants and the accused can talk and have arbitration. However, money laundering is a crime that cannot be bargained away,” Sawasdee added.
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