Chamoy Thipyaso is the wife of a high-ranking member of the Royal Thai Air Force and an employee of the Petroleum Authority of Thailand. She is known for receiving the world's longest prison sentence of 141,078 years for her involvement in a pyramid scheme that defrauded more than 16,000 Thais and is estimated to have been worth between $200–300 million.
Mae Chamoy Fund
In the late 1960s Thipyaso started a chit fund called the Mae Chamoy Fund (Mae being the Thai word for Mother), which was made to look like an oil share with high returns. Due to Thipyaso's connections with the Air Force and Petroleum Authority, the fund was able to sustain itself for a remarkably long time. Connections to the military were a huge factor in political and business power, and so its apparent military backing made the scheme seem legitimate.
The scheme drew in 16,231 clients, and was not shut down until the mid-1980s.
Arrest and prison sentence
The fund had a large number of politically powerful investors from the military and even the Royal Household and as such there were calls for the government to bail out the banks and the chit funds. After discussions with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the nature of which were not made public, the Mae Chamoy Fund was shut down and Chamoy Thipyaso was arrested. She was held in secret by the air force for several days and her trial was not held until after the losses for the military and royal personnel involved had been recovered.
On July 27, 1989 Thipyaso and seven accomplices were convicted of corporate fraud. She was sentenced to a total of 141,078 years in prison but Thai law at the time stated that the maximum sentence that could be served for fraud was 20 years. In actuality, she only served about eight years of the sentence.
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