File photo – Victims of convicted Ponzi scheme fraudster Phudit Kittitradilok (whose picture is in poster) show up at the Department of Special Investigation in Bangkok in May to seek its legal action against him. The Criminal Court sentenced him to 13,275 years in jail for the fraud and money-laundering on Friday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
The Criminal Court on Friday sentenced Phudit Kittitradilok, 34, to a total of 13,275 years in jail for his pyramid scheme tricking about 2,600 victims out of 574 million baht.
However, he will likely serve 20 years since the Penal Code set that limit for the imprisonment for every offence with the penalty of 3-10 years, regardless of counts.
Earlier, public prosecutors told the court that from Aug 1, 2015 to Sept 1, 2016 Phudit, his accomplices at large and his companies — The System Plug and Play and Innovision Holding — organised seminars to invite people to invest in what they claimed were businesses involving beauty care, used cars, export, property development and foreign exchange.
They offered a 1% weekly return to investors, plus 5% of new investment money to those who recruited new members.
On Friday, Phudit was brought to the Criminal Court from the Bangkok Remand Prison as his bail had been denied since his arrest in Huai Khwang district of Bangkok in August.
The court found that Phudit committed 2,653 counts of fraud. It sentenced him to five years in jail for each count. The total jail term reached 13,265 years.
He was also found guilty of money-laundering and sentenced to 10 years in prison, increasing the term to 13,275 years.
Since he confessed, his prison term was halved to 6,637 years and six months.
His companies were fined 663.75 million baht each. Phudit and his companies were also ordered to repay about 574 million baht to their 2,653 victims plus 7.5% yearly interest.
Samart Jenchaijitwanich, an activist campaigning against pyramid schemes, said that the Ponzi scheme involved 5.3 billion baht and about 40,000 members. After the court’s ruling, he said more victims were likely to file complaints, in addition to the 2,653 affected people who already did.
In the Mae Chamoi case, one of the most notorious Ponzi schemes involving oil trading during 1977-85, the court sentenced a key suspect to 154,005 years in 1989. She remained in jail for seven years and 11 months following two punishment reductions.