By The Nation
Suspect Chi Min, wanted on a Sikhiu Court-issued arrest warrant since September, was arrested at a Muang Nakhon Ratchasima restaurant late on Thursday afternoon. Police also seized Bt270,000 in cash, five bank account books, two ATM cards and four cell phones.
Chi was also named on another arrest warrant issued by the Phitsanulok Court for conspiracy with a transnational criminal gang after three alleged accomplices were nabbed earlier this month along with Bt189,000 in cash and 10 ATM cards. The trio Hou Cheng Shon, 30, Hung Wei Che, 22, and Wu Chung Che, 22 had been arrested for withdrawing cash within Thailand for a Taiwanese gang linked to Chi.
Provincial Police Region 3 investigation head Pol Maj-General Supakorn Khamsingnok said Chi, who had been in Thailand for a decade, allegedly coordinated activities on behalf of the Taiwan-based gang. Police said the gang phoned people and duped them into wiring money to clear their names in relation to bogus criminal investigations.
Chi is accused of sending the fraudulently obtained money back to gang leaders in Taiwan.
In a separate bust, Anti-Money Laundering Office deputy chief Pol Major-General Romsit Weeriyasan announced on Thursday the arrest of eight suspects linked to a Taiwanese “call centre scam”. The Crime Suppression Division and the Department of Special Investigation joined Romsit at the Bangkok press conference.
Chinese man Fang Yang Seng, 50, and an unnamed Taiwanese woman were arrested along with Thais Anuruth Permthaweesap, Panpaporn Sri-ondee, Somporn Chuchuay, Kulwadee Chimphetch, Daranat Yangdeelert, and Rattana Ketsupan during the authorities’ raids of three companies in Bangkok on Thursday morning.
A police source said the companies – two in Huai Kwang and one in Bung Kum – allegedly served as tour business and employment agency fronts to launder money for a call-centre scam gang.
The companies allegedly “facilitated” the Thai workers sending money back to their families, by keeping the legitimate Taiwanese dollars and sending ill-gotten cash to pay the workers’ families instead, the source said.
Romsit said the gang had duped Thai and foreign people into wiring money with a threat of criminal prosecution over bogus drug or money-laundering offences since 2010.
So far 64 victims in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Chiang Mai, Songkhla, Phuket, Nakhon Ratchasima, Lampang and Sa Kaew had filed complaints against them, claiming to suffer damages worth Bt60 million. Forty-nine arrest warrants had been issued for suspects, including 20 Thais hired to open bank accounts for ill-gotten money transactions, Romsit said.
The account-opening-for-hire Thais would be charged for money laundering, an offence punishable by 1-10 years in prison and/or a Bt20,000-Bt200,000 fine, he said.