Date
11 December 2017
Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Princess Srirasmi attend a royal ceremony in Bangkok. An uncle of the princess has been identified as the prime suspect in a high-profile corruption scandal. Photo: Reuters.
Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Princess Srirasmi attend a royal ceremony in Bangkok. An uncle of the princess has been identified as the prime suspect in a high-profile corruption scandal. Photo: Reuters.

Police tag uncle of Thai princess as chief graft suspect

An uncle of Thai Princess Srirasmi is the chief suspect in a high-profile corruption scandal, Reuters reported Friday, citing a senior police official.

Princess Srirasmi, 42, is the third wife of Thai heir apparent Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

Pongpat Chayaphan, the former head of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), and several others were charged with extortion, operating gambling dens, accepting bribes and exploiting the monarchy for personal gain.

He is an uncle of the Thai princess on her mother’s side, the report said, citing Lt. Gen. Prawut Thawornsiri, spokesman for the police and acting CIB commissioner.

The corruption investigation has embroiled top police officers, army sergeants, one of Thailand’s richest men and seven relatives of the princess.

On Monday, police confirmed that the crown prince had asked the government to forbid anyone from using the royal surname given to Srirasmi’s family after he married her in 2001.

The scandal has riveted the nation as it prepares to celebrate the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turns 87 on Friday.

The king, who underwent surgery in October to remove his gallbladder, is seen by many Thais as a unifying figure. The crown prince does not yet command the same devotion.

News about the palace in Thailand is tightly controlled and perceived insults against members of the royal family are often punished with jail.

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