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Thai TV Host Sorayuth Suthassanachinda Faces Embezzlement Charges

Sorayuth interviewing Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra

Bad news for popular Thai TV host Sorayuth Suthassanachinda this week as the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) have just announced they are recommending embezzlement charges be filed against him.

According to the Bangkok Post, Khun Sorayuth is likely to be charged with witholding more than 138 million baht (around $4,451,612) in TV advertising fees from MCOT Plc. Khun Sorayuth read an emotion-laden statement on his TV show on Channel 3 yesterday denying all charges.

The charges stem from incidents more than seven years ago when Sorayuth first founded his company Rai Som Co. Responsible for producing and airing various entertainment and news-related TV shows for MCOT, Rai Som Co was supposed to give any advertising revenue to MCOT for advertising aired over an allowed five minute period. This amounted to approximately 200,000 baht per minute.

MCOT, however, contends that Sorayuth Suthassanachinda asked various employees to cover up the actual time the advertisements were aired, so that Rai Som Co and, consequently, Sorayuth himself could keep more of the revenue made. MCOT apparently filed charges with the NACC five years ago, and they have been investigating the case ever since (this type of thing sure takes a long time to ‘investigate’ in Thailand).

The case then devolves into a whole legal mess withe Sorayuth having already paid some of the fees owed while he now contends MCOT hasn’t paid what they owe Rom Sai Co for overdue advertising revenue, which Sorayuth says is still around 253 million baht (approximately $8,161,500).

Some members of the media and the public are demanding Sorayuth Suthassanachinda resign from his TV show or at least suspend his involvement until after the court case is decided. Sorayuth responded by resigning from the TJA, the Press Council of Thailand, as he is so angry with what local Thai journalists are saying about him. However, TJA say he hasn’t paid his membership dues since the mid-1990s, so shouldn’t have been a member anyway.

People like Thai media consultant and former TV journalist, Somkiat Onwimon, say Sorayuth should offer an explanation to the Thai public. This is particularly important as Sorayuth himself has always been an outspoken anti-graft advocate, so it’s difficult for many to understand how he can now be being charged with graft and embezzlement himself.

By the way, just in case you are not familiar with Sorayuth, the video below is of him interviewing current Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.