Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

B4.5bn in assets impounded in MORE fraud

Representatives of 11 affected securities firms meet with Economic Crime Suppression Division police on Nov 16, 2022, to discuss irregular trading of More Return Plc shares. (Photo supplied)

The Civil Court on Thursday ordered the temporary seizure of 4.47 billion baht worth of assets linked to parties accused of manipulating the share price of More Return Plc (MORE).

The order followed a request from the Office of the Attorney General, which had been asked earlier by the Anti Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to seek the seizure.

The OAG subsequently found evidence to back the request concerning 59 assets of the accused parties in the case, said deputy spokesman Kosolwat Inthuchanyon.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last Friday filed a complaint with the police Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECD) against 18 alleged offenders in the case.

The accused included major shareholders of MORE, their friends and associates. Investigations revealed a carefully orchestrated plan to manipulate the price and capitalise on price movements by placing huge buy and sell orders across multiple brokers. One market executive said the case was basically “a robbery”.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) suspended trading of MORE shares on Nov 14 last year, after looking into unusual transactions that took place on the Nov 10 and 11.

The shares opened at 2.90 baht on Nov 10, up 4.3% from the previous trading session. The price then dropped to 1.95 baht and continued falling on Nov 11 to 1.34 baht.

The SET said it noticed irregularities on Nov 10 when turnover in the normally lightly traded MORE reached 7.14 billion baht, the highest of the day on both the main bourse and the Market for Alternative Investment where MORE was listed. Its trading value was just 360 million baht on average during the previous 30 days.

At the opening of the market on Nov 10, trading volume was as high as 1.5 billion shares, worth almost 4.3 billion baht.

Abnormal trading orders on the buy side came mostly from one buyer through several brokerages at a price of 2.90 baht.

On the sell side, orders ranged from 70 million to 600 million shares per person.

Less than 20 minutes after the opening of the market, the price of MORE shares fell to its floor at 1.95 baht.

One investor who placed huge buy orders defaulted and the damage caused to the securities companies that paid the sellers was estimated at 4 billion baht.

An initial investigation of brokers’ trading platforms indicated that the purchaser’s account was the same individual who had opened cash and cash balance accounts with many brokers, using mostly MORE shares in other accounts as collateral.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the perpetrators divided up their duties on Nov 10 by sending orders that were to be matched in large volumes, leading to movements that misled the public about the price or trading volume of the securities.

The sellers included MORE chief executive Ummarit Klomchitcharoen, Apimuk Bamrungwong, the company’s fourth-largest shareholder, the Tong Hua Group and members of the Phornprapha family, a prominent business family. Also involved, the SEC said, were friends and relatives of Mr Apimuk, some of whom were former shareholders and executives of DNA 2002 Plc — a previous incarnation of MORE.

Mr Ummarit on Monday informed the SET of his resignation.

The investigation also led to the suspension of Asia Wealth Securities, one of several brokerages through which the perpetrators made trades for large amounts of the company’s shares.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.