Chuwit vs the triads – still blowing his whistle

The seed that was planted during an October raid on a Bangkok nightspot that stayed open too late, has blossomed into one of the kingdom’s most invasive corruption scandals.

At the centre is businessman and suspected crime boss Chaiyanat “Tuhao” Kornchayanant – the rich guy. He allegedly has a finger in almost every criminal pie in Bangkok and is a key figure in Chinese criminal syndicates operating in Thailand. His wife is the niece of a former deputy PM.

So far, Tuhao is accused of being involved in the drug trade, running a business without a license, associating with a transnational crime network and money laundering. The case is the stuff of movies: drugs, private jets, heaps of cash, triads, corrupt officials, a fake train, cabinet ministers, incompetence and glamour.

But we wouldn’t have a rich guy if it weren’t for the man formerly known as the Tub King: Chuvit Kamolvisit. The former massage parlour kingpin and politician has quite a swagger about him.

Related news

On Tuesday, Chuwit posted footage on Facebook from the October raid on a Bangkok nightspot. In his post, he questioned the transparency of the investigation. How can foreign criminals accumulate billions of baht without anyone noticing?

On Friday, Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) chief Pol Lt-General Thiti Saengsawang an investigation had begun into a police colonel who had allegedly provided confidential information to whistleblower Chuwit, specifically the FB video clip.

In an interview with Bangkok Post, Chuvit spoke in detail about Chinese criminals operating in the kingdom.

Fountain of wisdom - Chuwit's leaking dismays cops | Thaiger
Chuvit said Bangkok’s Huai Kwang and Ratchadaphisek districts’ Chinese businesses did not cause problems until the crime syndicate was established.

The story begins in Beijing with a crackdown on drugs and gambling. The crooks fled to countries with weak administrative systems, Thailand among them. They courted senior police and influential figures, who allowed them to operate grey businesses – or completely illegal businesses – mainly entertainment venues and gambling dens.

Chuvit said Bangkok’s Huai Kwang and Ratchadaphisek districts were full of Chinese businesses, this did not cause any problems until a criminal network was formed.

Chuvit explained the background of the October raid, saying…

“After three weeks in office, the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau wanted to take down illegal night venues. What he found was drugs, a very special kind of drugs. The October raid on a Bangkok nightspot targeted one of many joints catering to Chinese people only, with cubicles reserved for drug-taking.”

The gangsters, he said, did not deal directly with the police, but through a middleman, a well-known politician. When they raided the Jinling nightclub, the MPB were not aware of the establishment’s owner. The Jinling affair raised questions as to how the immigration police had allowed the criminals to remain in the country.

Officials squirm amid Chuvit's Triad exposé
Chuwit suspects that politicians and officials launder their dirty assets through Tuhao’s network.

Chuwit told Bangkok Post

“And we’ve found they disguised themselves as students or volunteers of foundations operating as fronts. During 2020-2021, almost 10,000 Chinese people entered the country with backing from foundations, especially in the Northeast.”

Tuhao, a Chinese man with Thai citizenship, makes no secret of his political connections and donated 3 million baht (US$90,000) to the ruling Palang Pracharath Party shortly before his arrest.

Chuwit alleges that Tuhao once gifted a senior politician 100 million baht (US$3 million), paid through a middleman. On money laundering, he suspects that politicians and officials launder assets through Tuhao’s network.

Tuhao’s business prospered, Chuvit said. Chaiyanat brought Chinese tourists to Thailand and restricted almost all their spending within these businesses — accommodation, transportation and shopping. Chuwit related a story of Tuhao renting an entire temple for a fake amulet scam for Chinese tourists.

But it’s not just Tuhao. Chuvit claims “Somsak Ma” fled overseas. Somsak Ma targets Chinese investors who wish to buy property in Thailand. He allegedly has connections in the Anti-money Laundering Office (AMLO) and his scam works by using Thai nominees who are already blacklisted by AMLO. When the “mistake” is “discovered,” afraid of legal consequences, Chinese investors sell their property at low prices to the network. The network – under a different name – provides legal guidance.

According to Chuvit, AMLO is in big trouble he believes the affair is behind the resignation of Pol Maj Gen Piyapan Pingmuang, former chairman of AMLO.

Looking increasingly like a Charles Bronson character, the vigilante admitted that he did not expect a satisfactory outcome. Corruption, he asserts, is deeply embedded in society…

Chuwit hands 'triad details' to ministry
“Sometimes I push and sometimes I retreat. I just need one win, and I think I’m close to it.”

“It’s impossible that corruption is wiped out and corrupt officials are put away. This is a tragedy…Tuhao’s tragedy. When he is buried along with those who assisted him, then we start looking for Tuhao 2 and Tuhao 3.

“When dealing with this, sometimes I push and sometimes I retreat. I just need one win, and I think I’m close to it.”

Crime News

Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

Related Articles