Connect with us

Thailand

AMLO follows money trail to bring down Siamese rosewood smuggling cartel

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

AMLO follows money trail to bring down Siamese rosewood smuggling cartel | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

AMLO follows money trail to bring down Siamese rosewood smuggling cartel
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: With the anti-money laundering law covering trade in endangered Siamese rosewood, investigators have been able to follow the money trail related to the timber smuggling gangs and have come up with a more complete picture of this illegal activity in the Northeast.

Investigators uncovered links between transnational gangs trading in the rare wood and drug traffickers, and learned that timber-smuggling convoys were similar to the ones used to smuggle drugs. The probe also found that the wood was sometimes paid for in narcotics, and found some links with local politicians.

After police broke up a gang based in Chaiyaphum on April 19 and subsequently confiscated Bt2 billion worth of assets, links were found to a Nakhon Ratchasima politician’s older brother, who allegedly tried to bribe the police to help the gang. The network, allegedly led by Kampanart Chaimat, had reportedly traded in Siamese rosewood and wildlife since 2000.

In line with the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy, Pol General Chalermkiat Srivorakhan, director of the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression

Centre, led a police crackdown on gangs said to be behind the felling of rosewood trees. They also uncovered a cartel led by Pakin Siriwarom, who was arrested in Ubon Ratchathani.

Pakin, believed to be a major rosewood trader with businesses in five provinces in the Northeast, had allegedly devised a new way of smuggling the rare wood using modified cars and 4-wheel-drive trucks.

When police asked the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to go ahead with money-laundering charges against the suspect, the agency launched a four-month investigation into the gang’s transactions and even visited Savannakhet province in Laos, where shophouses were reportedly rented to store the smuggled wood.

AMLO found that the cartel had set up a second-hand car dealership and took in any car – even ones under mortgage to gambling dens – because they could be modified to smuggle the wood. The modified vehicles were used to transport the timber at night and parked at the dealership during the day to avoid suspicion.

It was also difficult for police to monitor vehicles because up to 100 of them were used in rotation to smuggle the timber. All cars used for smuggling were under lease so as to prevent police from tracing them back to the person behind the smuggling.

Every time issues arose over a vehicle lease or came up in court, the dealership would claim the car and take it back. This way, the cartel was able to launder the hefty profits it earned from the rosewood.

It is believed that once the timber crossed the border it would earn at least four times the price of the car.

Payments for the smuggled wood, meanwhile, were paid into the bank accounts of nominees, who would then move the cash in ATM transfers to avoid detection. Payments that were collected from Laos in US dollars were reportedly declared as money earned from fruit exports or from gambling in casinos.

Once the cash was in Thailand, it was turned into Thai baht and laundered through tour businesses, massage parlours, second-hand car dealerships or even deposited in banks where relatives of the gang members worked, the AMLO report said.

A joint police-Army-AMLO team searched 20 locations linked to Pakin’s group in Ubon Ratchathani, Mukdahan, Si Sa Ket, Amnat Charoen and Kalasin provinces and found several pieces of key evidence, such as wood dust and chains in the trunks of many cars on show at the dealership. They also found some weapons in the gang members’ homes.

This was fitted with what police investigators had learnt – that every shipment of rosewood involved a five-car convoy. The first car was used to see if the coast was clear, while the second and third would carry the timber, the fourth was used to distract police, while the fifth car – reportedly driven by an armed ex-paramilitary ranger – would provide protection. The group reportedly contacted each other using the popular Line mobile-phone chat application.

AMLO chief Pol Colonel Sihanart Prayoonrat said that individuals found to have helped the illegal felling and smuggling of rosewood would face four years in prison and/or fines up to Bt40,000. They would also face penalties under the money-laundering law. This is just like drug dealers, who face a jail term and fine, plus have their assets confiscated.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Protests

House Speaker confirms agreement for special parliamentary session

Maya Taylor

Published

on

House Speaker confirms agreement for special parliamentary session | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Speaker of the lower house of Parliament has confirmed that there is cross-party agreement for an extraordinary parliamentary session to be convened in the wake of the ongoing political unrest in Thailand. Chuan Leekpai has notified PM Prayut Chan-o-cha of the agreement to hold the special session in a bid to seek a resolution to the conflict. Anti-government protests have been taking place all over the country since mid-July and, while all have been peaceful, rallies are increasing in size and frequency. Activists are pitching a 10-point manifesto, with demands including the resignation of the PM, the dissolution of parliament and the holding of fresh elections, as well as a re-drafting of the constitution.

In his letter to the PM, Chuan calls on the cabinet to back the announcement of a Royal Decree, which will declare the opening of the special session. He proposes an initial general debate, with no voting requirement, so that MPs and senators can express their opinions and work to find a solution to the current impasse. The PM has already voiced his support for an extraordinary session of parliament.

Meanwhile, a number of opposition figures are calling for the state of emergency imposed on Bangkok to be lifted, declaring its implementation illegal and unnecessary. They are threatening legal action against the government if this proves to be the case, with the Pheu Thai Party renewing its calls for the PM’s resignation.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Protests

Police threaten jail time for anyone taking selfies at protests

Maya Taylor

Published

on

Police threaten jail time for anyone taking selfies at protests | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The State of Emergency recently imposed on Bangkok amid escalating political unrest carries some sweeping powers, some of them rather creative. According to a report in Coconuts, police are warning that anyone taking a selfie at anti-government protests is risking 2 years in jail and a fine of up to 40,000 baht. You’d have to really want that photo…

The emergency decree is being invoked in everything, from the arrests of protesters and their leaders, to the threat of restrictions being slapped on media outlets whose reporting is deemed unfavourable.

“We are under the severe state of emergency, which is a special law. We must hold this law seriously. Everything we do is under international standards.”

Meanwhile, the latest clampdown has led to the arrest (and subsequent temporary release) of one doctor and the firing of another. After riot police in Bangkok used water cannons laced with chemicals to disperse a protest on Friday, around 400 Thai doctors called on officials to refrain from using such irritants against activists.

Jarosdao Rimpanichkit, a doctor at Bangkok’s Mongkutwattana General Hospital, was promptly fired for having put his name to the letter. In a statement, the director of the military hospital, General Rientong Nanna, says the facility could not support employees who are, “allied with the king’s enemies.”

Meanwhile, another doctor, Tossaporn Serirak, has been released on bail after being arrested for violating the emergency decree. Tossaporn has become something of a hero figure to pro-democracy activists, after he began offering medical assistance at rallies and criticising officials for the tactics used against peaceful protesters.

SOURCE: Coconuts

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Tourism

First tourists in 7 months arrive in BKK today

Maya Taylor

Published

on

First tourists in 7 months arrive in BKK today | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

5pm today – that’s the time the first groups of “tourists” will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, announced the arrival of the first group of tourists to arrive in the Kingdom since borders where locked in March. He said they wouldn’t needn’t worry about the political unrest currently rocking the capital, pointing out that the protests are peaceful.

The tourists departing from Shanghai, China and arriving in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) will only be in Thailand for 30 days, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says.

They’ll spend half that time locked up in quarantine for 14 days. Today’s flight today is reported to include 41 people who have applied for their visa through the new STV, Special Tourist Visa.

Phiphat says that in total, 400 international tourists, primarily Chinese, will arrive in Thailand by early November. All will be tested and whisked off for 14 day quarantine on arrival, in addition to having to endure copious amounts of paperwork before they even get here.

A plan to admit Chinese tourists earlier this month hit a small snag when it emerged not a single one had applied for the government’s newly-launched Special Tourist Visa.

The tourism minister says the first group to arrive are doing so as part of a “conditional entry” program and are arriving from a region in China that “has been free of the Covid-19 virus for several months now”. It’s understood the visitors have been specially chosen and approved for entry by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Additional tourists are expected to arrive on October 26, when another group lands in Phuket. The later arrival in Phuket was to coincide with the end of this years Vegetarian Festival celebrations.

Phiphat says the October 26 arrivals are also coming from “very low risk” areas.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading
Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19 | The Thaiger
Thailand20 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protests, Special Tourist Visa, Prisoners slippery escape | October 16 | The Thaiger
Thailand4 days ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protests, Special Tourist Visa, Prisoners slippery escape | October 16

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency, Pattaya ‘online’, Veggie Festival plea | October 15 | The Thaiger
Thailand5 days ago

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency, Pattaya ‘online’, Veggie Festival plea | October 15

Thailand News Today | BKK protest update, Chiang Mai ‘quiet’, Baby klong crocs | October 14 | The Thaiger
Thailand6 days ago

Thailand News Today | BKK protest update, Chiang Mai ‘quiet’, Baby klong crocs | October 14

Thailand News Today | No STV tourists, Boss in Dubai, border fears in Tak | October 13 | The Thaiger
Thailand7 days ago

Thailand News Today | No STV tourists, Boss in Dubai, border fears in Tak | October 13

Thailand News Today | Land bridge project, “Thai Bridge”, Chaing Mai black widow | October 12 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Thailand News Today | Land bridge project, “Thai Bridge”, Chaing Mai black widow | October 12

Thailand News Today | Army v Twitter, Tourism interrupted, Thailand World’s #6 | October 9 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Army v Twitter, Tourism interrupted, Thailand World’s #6 | October 9

Thailand News Today | Tourist arrivals postponed, Will Boss return?, deadly centipede | October 8 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Tourist arrivals postponed, Will Boss return?, deadly centipede | October 8

Thailand News Today | Poll-Keep borders closed, quarantine exemption, heavy rain | October 7 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Poll-Keep borders closed, quarantine exemption, heavy rain | October 7

Thailand News Today | Business people exemptions, road checkpoints, Phuket delay | October 6 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Business people exemptions, road checkpoints, Phuket delay | October 6

Thailand News Today | Live from Thammasat, Sacked teacher sues parents, Pattaya eating contest | October 5, 2020 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Live from Thammasat, Sacked teacher sues parents, Pattaya eating contest | October 5, 2020

Thailand News Today | Prison release?, Pattaya Makeover, 6 new Covid cases | October 2 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Prison release?, Pattaya Makeover, 6 new Covid cases | October 2

Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1

Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30

Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty extended, first STV tourists, teacher sacked | September 29 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty extended, first STV tourists, teacher sacked | September 29

Follow The Thaiger by email:

Trending