By KHANATHIT SRIHIRANDEJ
A FUGITIVE Japanese lawyer accused of involvement in a stock-market fraud that caused 12 billion yen (Bt4 billion) in damages reportedly underwent facial surgery to conceal his true identity - and lay low in Thailand for nearly a decade, police say.
To tackle the problem of transnational fugitives hiding in Thailand, Immigration Police say they will install biometric devices in six to eight months to conduct facial and fingerprint recognition scans.
Yasuo Tsubaki, 62, wanted by the Saitama District Court since 2007, was apprehended at the Government Complex in Chaeng Wattana on Wednesday while trying to renew a visa, Immigration Police chief Pol Lt-General Natthorn Phrosunthorn told a press conference yesterday.
The arrest was made after authorities from Japan alerted Thai police last week to locate the man, he said.
Tsubaki, then a lawyer at OHT, a Japanese machinery company, allegedly conspired with two others to open 526 accounts through 41 other securities companies between 2001 and 2005 to buy scores of OHT shares.
They allegedly speculated and helped lift the stock price from 200,000 yen per share to between 1.2 million and 1.5 million yen before selling all the shares. This caused damages of 12 billion yen. Japanese media called it the country’s worst share-speculation case, Natthorn said.
After arrest warrants were issued in 2007, Tsubaki’s two accomplices were arrested, while he was living comfortably in Thailand.
He reportedly stayed in a Bt100,000-a-month condo in the Sukhumvit area before moving to a Bt30,000-a-month house in the Rama II area.
Natthorn said two years ago Tsubaki applied for a permanent visa and never changed his name, although he kept to himself and only used his real name when going to hospital or applying for a visa.
National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said Tsubaki initially admitted to be the wanted person. Now police are investigating whether he had any Thai assistance, as someone opened a phone number and a bank account under a Thai name for him to use.
Chakthip said police revoked Tsubaki’s visa on grounds of his being a social threat and would deport him soon.
Natthorn said Tsubaki had denied undergoing plastic surgery and living with a Thai national. Chakthip took this opportunity to tell Immigration Police officers to screen people strictly as they enter or leave the country.
Citing Tsubaki’s alleged “Face Off” plastic surgery to avoid detection, he urged officers to make use of technology to check the identity of criminals.
Natthorn said his office had requested a budget to buy biometric devices to prevent fugitives’ lying low in Thailand or those with similar appearance applying for state-issued documents on their behalf.
He said the devices should be installed in six to eight months.