Pachara Messiyaporn, owner of Bluedragon Lottery, has denied accusations that his company is responsible for overpricing lottery tickets, following his arrest on four charges.
Last month, the lottery’s headquarters were raided and two million tickets were seized by police amid overpricing allegations, though Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, was forced to respond to claims the raid was politically motivated.
But Pachara, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, is adamant there has been no evidence of wrongdoing on his part, with the Bangkok Post reporting that he is set to contest the charges brought against him.
The charges are: selling overpriced tickets, committing fraud, violating the Computer Crime Act leading to damage of other people, operating an unregistered direct sales business and placing advertisements with false or exaggerated content for consumers.
He claimed his online platform only provided a venue for 39,000 vendors to sell tickets so buyers could shop “more conveniently”.
In addition, he affirmed that ticket prices are decided by the vendors, while buyers could browse through the vendor list to find prices acceptable to them.
“So, the allegation that Bludragon was the main cause for the overpriced tickets is not fair to the company,” Pachara said, as reported by Nation Thailand.
“Everybody knows the stalls at the mouths of sois are already selling overpriced tickets.”
According to Pachara, the Government Lottery of Thailand issued 100m tickets for each draw and 31m were allocated for sale to its registered middlemen for distribution, with the remaining 69m handed to small vendors via an advanced booking system.
He said several middlemen resold tickets to retail vendors at inflated prices, which, in turn, prompted the vendors to sell the tickets at higher prices.
Surachate Hakparn, Assistant Police Chief, said on Wednesday that he is confident the evidence would support legal action against Bluedragon’s executives.
Two other vendors, Red Tiger and Konk Salak Plus, also stand accused of driving up ticket prices.
Further controversy has ensued with the leak of an audio clip that appears to suggest Seksakol Atthawong, aide to the Prime Minister, may have a ‘vested interest’ in the government’s lottery ticket quota.
Seksakol, who is leading a sub-committee investigating the overpricing of lottery tickets, has been defended by Anucha Nakasai, the Prime Minister’s Office Minister, who labelled the audio clip a “joke”.
In the clip, a man was heard telling a woman he took 15m baht from another man and used it to finance an election campaign.
“Mr Seksakol has the determination to tackle the problem. I confirm that none of the sub-committee members are involved in corruption,” Anucha said, as reported by the Bangkok Post.
“None have taken advantage of the government’s lottery tickets for their own gain. There is no special lottery ticket quota. The issue is ready to be scrutinised.”