Five people have been charged in connection with swindling 6 million baht out of a British man in exchange for freeing him from detention, according to police.

Pol Col Ramet Kaewsungnoen, a superintendent of Mae Hong Son police, was among the accused. He was also using his alleged connection with Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakpan, the assistant national police chief. The British man, named as Ritesh Patel, 39, was arrested at the end of June with a fake British passport. It was discovered he was wanted in the UK and by Interpol on drugs charges. 

Phone calls and bank transfers were allegedly made in an attempt to secure his release for 6 million baht.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate, known as Big Joke, told reporters that a woman named Thirawan Khiewngam had sought bail for the Briton, who was her friend, but this was rejected. Interpol had issued a red notice for him, and he was detained by the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok.

Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence. A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

Ms Thirawan then sought help from Thananwat Thanthanpan who told her that he was acquainted with a man named Witthaya Somsrisomsakul who could get in touch with Pol Col Ramet, a former classmate of Pol Lt Gen Surachate in the Royal Police Cadet Academy.

Mr Thananwat said he believed Pol Col Ramet’s connections would be enough to persuade the immigration officers to release the Briton but 6 million baht must be paid to secure his freedom.

On June 29, Mr Thananwat and Mr Witthaya visited the man at the detention centre in Bang Khen district, Bangkok. Ms Thirawan was to transfer 6 million baht to some bank accounts, however, after the money was transferred, Mr Witthaya made little attempt to secure bail and could not be reached on his phone. Ms Thirawan then decided to file a police complaint against the group with the Pak Klongsan police.

The 6 million baht was found to have been remitted to third-party bank accounts before the money was eventually transferred to Pol Col Ramet and his family members’ bank accounts, as well as accounts owned by Mr Witthaya. 

The Pak Klongsan police have gathered evidence and summonsed Pol Col Ramet, Mr Witthaya, 67, and three others, Apirak Thiengtham, 43, Natnaree Boonma, 35, and Thipsuda Insongjai, 26, to acknowledge the charges against them. Initially, they have been charged with colluding to commit fraud. The three other suspects allegedly opened the third-party bank accounts to receive the 6 million baht.