Thai court drops drug charges against Myanmar businessman linked to junta

BANGKOK — A Thai court on Tuesday acquitted a Myanmar tycoon with close ties to the country’s junta of charges including drug trafficking, money laundering, and transnational crime following his arrest in Bangkok more than a year ago.

The Thailand criminal court cleared Tun Min Latt, 54, and three others of 32 suspected violations, including drug trafficking and related charges, with the presiding judge telling a packed court room that the evidence gathered by the police for the prosecution was insufficient to show any wrongdoing.

The state prosecutor can appeal against the verdict.

Thai police arrested Tun Min Latt in Bangkok in September 2022, accusing the Myanmar businessman of laundering drug money through electricity trade between the Thai border town of Mae Sai and Tachileik in Myanmar’s Shan State.

Tun Min Latt, who has interests in hotels, energy and mining, and has a history of procuring supplies for the Myanmar military, is a close associate of Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing who seized power in a 2021 coup, three sources told Reuters.

When the Thai police raided his Bangkok condo in 2022, they found assets, including title deeds and bank books belong to Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter and son.

Thai senator Upakit Pacharirangkun was indicted last month for collusion in drug trafficking and money laundering through his association with Tun Min Latt, with the first hearing scheduled for May.

The senator’s son-in-law, Dean Young Gultula, who was arrested along with Tun Min Latt, also had his charges dropped by the court along with the Myanmar businessman. — Reuters