Over 200 members of an agricultural co-op from Chiang Mai’s Sanpatong district have reported the loss of savings of 100 million baht from their account at Thai Military Bank (TMB). This group represents over 10,000 farmers who belong in the co-op and whose livelihoods are dependant on this money.
According to police, a report was filed at Chang Puak Police station accusing the bank manager as well as 20 named enablers of theft.
The farmers say that they had been steadily savung this money over the years, adding a bit at a time to their funds.
According to one farmer, the co-op had sensibly spread its monies across many investments over the years since the co-op’s inception in 1975, to mitigate against risk. However, during the pandemic the bank manager of TMB’s Chang Puak branch had convinced the co-op to put funds in an investment offering 3.8% returns. They decided to put in 70 million baht.
After receiving no interest for years and needing statements to submit to audit a member of the co-op went to update their statement recently anfter months of excuses from the bank as to why they were unable to issue statements. Upon updating the bank book rhe member found the account had only 7,000 baht remaining.
The bank has yet to offer any explanation as to where the money went, how did it go missing, who will take responsibility or when and how much they will return the money.
“We are farmers and this is a very large sum of money,” one farmer told CityNews. Not only is the money gone but also the interest. We need this money to survive and I want some straight answers.”
Police say that this is a top priority and that they will do everything to ensure farmers do not suffer anymore from this theft.