Published on August 30, 2007
Sripop: No comment for now.
The Picnic Corp scandal has claimed another victim. Sripop Sararas, president and CEO of Krung Thai Asset Management (KTAM), has had his employment contract terminated by KTAM, effective from August 16, due to the damage suffered from the company's investment in Picnic's bills of exchange.
Yesterday, a letter dated August 15 from the company's board to Sripop, which indicates the decision to terminate his job, was circulated to the media. The person who sent the letter to the media is unknown.
"I don't want to give any comment at the moment," Sripop said when contacted yesterday by telephone.
He reportedly has close connections with the former chairman of Krung Thai Bank, Viroj Nualkhair, as both had been in the management at now-defunct Phatra Thanakit. The securities business of the company has been separated and renamed Phatra Securities.
Krung Thai Bank president Apisak Tantivorawong, when asked about Sripop's job termination, said members of KTAM's board would be best placed to comment about the matter.
However, KTAM chairman Krairit Euchukanonchai could not be reached for comment yesterday.
During April and May, KTAM set up an examination committee to probe KTAM's investment in Picnic's bills of exchange worth about Bt500 million, carried out under Sripop's management. The company suffered from the late payment and default by Picnic and has so far received only Bt200 million in payments from Picnic.
According to the letter, the board said Sripop had not followed the board's resolution, regulations, company policies and had not kept the company's interest in mind. It said Sripop had insulted, condemned and defamed his superiors, which was a criminal offence. Such actions, the board said in the letter, had violated the company's rules and discipline, and also broken the employment contract and caused damage to the company.
Therefore, the company had decided to cease his employment according to Section 6.1 of the employment contract, with Sripop having no right to claim any compensation from the company.
On August 15, the board of directors unanimously agreed to terminate Sripop's job contract dated September 29, 2003. The resolution took effect on August 16.
In addition, KTAM's board demanded that Sripop pay the company compensation of Bt2.98 million together with interest of 7.5 per cent per annum counted from the day the company was damaged. Payment must be made within 30 days from August 15. Sripop also has to pay for any damages the company suffers in the future.
Sripop was also ordered to submit a resignation letter as a director of the company on August 16, otherwise he must be held responsible for all damages that the company incurs.
The letter was signed by Danucha Yindeepit and Preeda Laocharoenwong, the company's authorised directors.
Aside from KTAM, other asset-management firms have also suffered from the default of Picnic's bills of exchange.
Aberdeen Asset Management has received only Bt3 million out of total debts of Bt50 million, while Krung Thai Asset Management, which has won two out of 11 civil cases it filed against Picnic, is owed Bt370 million. The other creditor is Finansa, which is owed Bt90 million.
Picnic has delayed payment and defaulted on its bills since early 2005. Three other firms - Ayudhya JF Asset Management, whose name was changed to Ayudhya Fund Management (AYF) last year, UOB Asset Management (Thai) (UOBAM) and Tisco Asset Management - were all affected by the delayed payment.
However, debts of Bt500 million due to AYF, Bt100 million to UOBAM and Bt5 million to Tisco were all cleared as the bills of these three asset-management firms came due prior to the others.