Thailand's Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has done a surprise about-face on its position regarding public remarks made by its Secretary-General alleging improper payments and fund transfers by Mr. Eric Levine, the founder of 'California Fitness' clubs worldwide as well as California WOW Xperience (CAWOW) fitness clubs in Thailand, from his former fitness business in Thailand.
The reversal has come after Mr. Levine filed a USD2.8 million lawsuit against AMLO and its officers for defamation.
In the lawsuit's hearing, recently conducted at Bangkok Criminal Court, representatives of AMLO admitted to the court their acceptance of the findings of specialist forensic investigators of Thailand's Office of the Securities and Excange Commission (SEC) who had reported that they did not discover any evidence of wrongdoing by California WOW Xperience or its senior executives.
The AMLO representatives also accepted the audits of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Jaiyos and PricewaterhouseCoopers which had confirmed the transactions of California WOW Xperience to be correct and without irregularity.
Mr. Levine said, "I'm going full steam ahead with the suit against AMLO and its former Secretary-General. It should be a lesson to AMLO and its officers. It will reaffirm to them that citizens are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that it is only a court of law that can pass judgment."
He said, "The former Secretary-General had the evidence from the SEC as well as the audits of globally reputable firms. He had also been told by Thailand's Department of Special Investigation that they would not conduct any further investigation of CAWOW, as had been requested by the Secretary-General of the AMLO."
Mr. Levine said that he and CAWOW officers had offered full cooperation for any investigation, but that, AMLO had never contacted him, or any of CAWOW's directors, or the company's Chief Financial Officer in the four years since the allegations were made.
"Such sensitive investigations should be carried out in the utmost secrecy, otherwise even the threat of an investigation by such a powerful body can become a tool against citizens. I have had my businesses damaged, my reputation tarnished, as well as suffered enormous personal distress for years. I hope this case may protect others in the future," Mr. Levine added.
Source: Philippines News Agency