Suspected Mastermind Behind $24 Million Bitcoin Fraud Arrested by Thai Police

The Bangkok Post reports that the prime suspect in an ongoing investigation surrounding a $24 million Bitcoin scam has been arrested. Prinya Jaravijit is believed to have swindled Finnish investor Aarni Otava Saarimaa with false claims that Saarimaa’s multi-million dollar investment was going towards a series of stock investments in Thailand. Jaravijit was arrested by authorities at the inbound immigration zone at Suvarnabhumi airport at 11:30 pm on Wednesday, October 10th. He had flown back to Thailand on Asiana Airlines’ Flight OZ741 from South Korea, en route from the United States.

Prinya Jaravijit (center) with authorities at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Prinya is reported to have left Thailand with his younger brother, actor Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, earlier this year as the scandal was unfolding. Jiratpisit was arrested as an accomplice on August 9th. Prinya is being arrested on charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. He has been sent to Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD), where it is reported he has been subject to interrogation.

CSD deputy commander Chakrit Sawasdee told the Bangkok Post that Prinya will be taken to the Criminal Court to see further detention. Police are still debating on whether or not Prinya will be given the option to post bail, as he poses a risk of flight. Prinya is reported to have denied all charges, although his testimony of the events reportedly gave confusing messages to interrogators.

Prinya is now in contact with his lawyers, perhaps to discuss the matter of applying for bail. He was caught after his passport was revoked by Thailand’s Foreign Ministry. If Prinya attempts to travel to the US, he will be subject to further charges and risk deportation by US officials.

Thai authorities have summoned Prinya’s parents and other family members believed to be linked to the crime for further questioning. The parents have admitted to receiving a 90 million baht wire from Prinya. The wire was first sent to Prinya’s mother who later gave it to her husband. Prinya also wired funds to his brother, Tanasit, who proceeded to distribute the money even further. The Thai police believe this is sufficient evidence to press money laundering charges.

Charges were first pressed by Finnish investor Aarni Saarimaa in January of this year with help from Thai business partner Chonnikan Kaewkasee. The 797 million baht sent to Prinya and his associates was intended to purchase shares in three firms, including Expay Software Co. The transfer took place in June of last year. The accused are reported to have spent none of the money on the agreed upon investments.

Finnish Investor Aarni Saarima with Thai business partner Chonnikan Kaewkasee

Charges were dropped against suspects Prasit Srisuwan and Expay shareholder Chakris Ahmad last month after a settlement was reached.

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