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Former Thai civil servant found unusually rich

Friday - 1/31/2014, 11:11am  ET

BANGKOK (AP) -- A Thai court on Friday ordered more than $1.4 million in assets seized from a former top civil servant whose wealth was revealed when burglars robbed his house.

The Civil Court said former Transport Ministry Permanent Secretary Supoj Saplom could not prove his wealth was honestly earned. It said his civil servant's salary from 1978 until 2002 could not account for it. He had also held senior positions in the state railway and Highway Department.

Anti-corruption laws allow the seizure of assets from officials judged to be "unusually wealthy."

Supoj had reported to police that $156,000 was missing after a burglary at his home in 2011, and that the money was a dowry paid to his family for the marriage of one of his daughters. The court said the dowry money totaled $17,750.

But when the burglars were caught, they confessed to stealing $570,000 in cash and gold. Prosecutors found Supoj had about $2 million in assets, $1.4 million of which was presumed by the court to be ill-gotten. The assets, some in the possession of relatives, included cash, bank accounts, real estate deeds, houses, cars and other property.

Supoj claimed that part of his fortune was earned before he joined the government and some belonged to relatives.


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