TV host Sorayuth sentenced 13 years and four months in jail for cheating MCOT

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The Criminal Court today sentenced well-known Channel 3's TV host Sorayuth Suthassanachinda and his Rai Som company financial officer to 13 years and four months in prison with no suspension of prison terms after finding them guilty in cheating the state-owned MCOT Plc of over 138 million baht in advertising revenue in 2005 and 2006.  

His Rai Som company was also ordered to pay fine of 80,000 baht.

The charges were filed by the National Anti Corruption Commission against the TV host and his Rai Som company,  Mrs Pichapa Iamsa-ard, an MCOT employee, and Ms Montha Theeradet, an employee of Rai Som Co.

The court at first sentenced Mrs Pichapa to 30 years in prison, and Surayuth and Ms Montha to 20 years but commuted the sentences by one third after they gave useful testimonies on the trial.

Mrs Pichapa’s sentence was reduced to 20 years, while Sorayuth and Montha got 13 years and four months each.

No suspension of jail terms were given to the three after the rulings.

They have to serve the jail terms immediately.

Mrs Pichapa received the hefty penalty as she was a state employee and guilty of corruption.

All three convicts are seeking temporary release on bails and will also appeal the sentences.

The NACC said in its lawsuit that in June 2003, MCOT contracted Sorayuth to be the daily host for its Thueng Luk Thueng Khon news programme on TV Channel 9 for 5,000 baht an episode.

The programme proved popular and prompted Sorayuth to establish Rai Som in February 2004.

Rai Som also had a contract with MCOT to co-produce the Kui Kui Khao news programme. Rai Som was allocated advertising slots of between two and five minutes during the news programme.

If its advertisements exceeded the time slots, Rai Som was supposed to pay MCOT a rate of at least 200,000 baht per minute.

Sorayuth allegedly paid Mrs Pichapa to help conceal the records of the advertising airtime Rai Som used.

The NACC found that Sorayuth made six payments worth a total of 739,770.50 baht to Mrs Pichapa who was  responsible for recording commercial time.

The NACC said Ms Pichapa managed to conceal  the recordings of the extra advertising time of Rai Som from February 4, 2005, to June 30, 2006 amounted to 138.79 million baht.