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Jail Sentence Makes Corporate Fraudsters Think 141 078 times

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The longest sentence ever given for corporate fraud was given to Chamoy Thipyaso in Bangkok.

Thipyaso was given a sentence of 141,078 years in 1989 for a massive pyramid scheme.

At the time Chamoy Thipyaso was the wife of a high-ranking member of the Royal Thai Air Force and an employee of the Petroleum Authority of Thailand. Her pyramid scheme defrauded more than 16,000 Thais and is estimated to have been worth between $200–300 million.

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 was a huge factor into one’s political and business power, and so by appearing to have the military’s backing this scheme seemed more legitimate to people.

The scheme drew in 16,231 clients, and was not shut down until the mid-1980s.

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.

Currently, Thipyaso’s sentence remains the world’s longest prison sentence, with a trio convicted of the 2004 Madrid train bombings coming in second ranging from 34 715 years to 42 924 years per person. Similar to Thipyaso’s case, the Spanish law dictates that the maximum prison sentence they can serve is up to 40 years per person.