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Thailand's Wind Energy appoints new CEO after graft scandal

A view shows windmills of several wind farms at the so-called "HelWin-Cluster", located 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of the German island of Heligoland on Nov 5, 2014.

[BANGKOK] Thailand's biggest developer of wind farms, Wind Energy Holdings (WEH), has appointed a new chief executive, the company said on Tuesday.

The change follows a high-profile corruption scandal that rocked Thailand and implicated the company's cofounder and former chief executive, Nopporn Suppipat, 43.

The graft investigation has embroiled top police officers, army sergeants and seven relatives of former Thai Princess Srirasmi and is one of the biggest recent scandals to hit the Southeast Asian nation.

Nopporn has stepped down, the company said in a statement. "Nopporn Suppipat has stood down from his role as Co-CEO and from the Board of Directors of WEH," it said. "The allegations against Nopporn are his own personal matter and are in no way linked to WEH." Emma Collins, previously a co-chief executive, has been appointed Wind Energy Holding's sole CEO with immediate effect.

Wind Energy Holdings was founded in 2009.

Nopporn, ranked among Thailand's 50 wealthiest people in 2013 by business magazine Forbes, is wanted on charges ranging from violating a strict lese majeste law that protects the monarchy to extortion. He fled to Cambodia last month.

Police accuse Nopporn of hiring relatives of Srirasmi Suwadee, formerly known as Princess Srirasmi, the third consort of Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, and conspiring to kidnap a creditor to force him to reduce a US$4 million (S$5.23 million) loan he owed.

Nopporn denied the accusations against him in a letter posted on Facebook last week. In a statement late on Friday the palace said Srirasmi had given up her royal title.