Tourist police impound buses of OA Transport Co in Bangkok in September. Executives of the company and its associated firms on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to charges relating to their alleged zero-dollar tour services. (Photo by Wassayos Ngamkham)
Thirteen defendants facing charges relating to the operation of illegal zero-dollar tour services pleaded not guilty in the Criminal Court in Bangkok on Wednesday.
They are: Somkiat Khongcharoen, 57, managing director of Fuan Travel Co; Mrs Thawal Jaemchokechai, 59, executive of Fuan Travel; OA Transport Co; Wasurat Rojrungrangsi, 26, managing director of OA Transport; Royal Gems International Co; Thai Herb Co; Bangkok Handicraft Centre Co; Royal Paradise Co; Nisa Rojrungrangsi, 61, managing director of Royal Gems International Co, Thai Herb Co, Bangkok Handicraft Centre Co and Royal Paradise Co and mother of Mr Wasurat; Thongchai Rojrungrangsi, who is Mrs Nisa’s 60-year-old husband; Baan Kanom Thongthip Co; Miss Saithip Rojrungrangsi, 35, director of Baan Kanom Thongthip and daughter of Mr Thongchai and Mrs Nisa; and Winit Chantharamanee, 69, manager of Fuan Travel.
They were charged with operating tour guide services without charging a fee, damaging tourism, taking advantage of tourists, operating unauthorised tour guide services, and laundering money.
On Oct 25, public prosecutors told the court that from March 24 to Aug 31 Fuan Travel brought Chinese tourists to Thailand without charging them.
OA Transport allowed Fuan Travel to use its 2,500 buses free of charge on the condition that OA Transport told tour guides and drivers to take tourists to shops in its network, where products were far more expensive than normal retail.
Public prosecutors also said that OA Transport gave 30-40% commissions to tour firms and 3-5% to tour guides that cooperated. Damage from such services was estimated at 98 million baht.
On Wednesday, accused members of the Rojrungrangsi family were taken to the Criminal Court from various Bangkok prisons.
All the defendants entered pleas of not guilty. The court set 1.30pm on Jan 30 to begin the examination of evidence and witness lists.
Get full Bangkok Post printed newspaper experience on your digital devices with Bangkok Post e-newspaper. Try it out, it’s totally free for 7 days.