The deputy director of the Thai National PoliceSurachate Hakparn, ‘Big Joke’ and investigated for alleged corruptionhas admitted to having paid periodically “to three or four journalists” who have been working on covering their cases. He denies that this was corruption.

In a telephone interview with a well-known social media show, ‘Big Joke’, who oversees, among others, the case against the Spanish Daniel Sanchofor the murder of Colombian Edwin Arrieta, has admitted that he paid them close to 10,000 baht (about 270 dollars) to “three or four journalists” every time they accompanied him “to cover the news” of cases under their jurisdiction.

“When the reporters accompanied me to cover the news, I gave them 10,000 baht for their work (…) I have between three and four journalists who have worked with me for a long time,” explained the deputy director.

However, he says he has not asked journalists to “do anything specific” nor have professionals approached him for money. Furthermore, he justifies that he made the payments simply because “it is known that the journalists are not well paid“.

The statements come within the framework of an investigation that links ‘Big Joke’ and several of his subordinates to illegal online betting funds, who have also been connected with alleged payments to journalists.

Who is ‘Big Joke’ and what controversies surround him?

‘Big Joke’, known for his high media profile, has been the visible face of the Police during the investigation of Daniel Sancho for the murder of Arrieta last August on the island of Phangan.

The controversial police officer is also one of the four candidates who aspire to occupy the position of top boss of the National Police, who should be appointed this Wednesday by the Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, although the election could be postponed due to the investigation into the alleged participation of ‘Big Joke’ in online gambling operations.

Last Monday, police searched the home and other properties of the deputy chief in Bangkok, as well as other senior police officials, to look for evidence related to the alleged bribery of some 140 million baht ($3.89 million or $3.65 million euros) received from an illegal online betting group.

‘Big Joke’ has denied all the accusations and has declared that he has “no connection with the gambling sites”, while considering the complaints against him to be the product of political conspiracies. For this reason, he filed a complaint the day before the Criminal Court against Monday’s raid and alleged that the police search warrant on his property was “inappropriate” and has caused damage to his “reputation.”