Thai police suspect Russian and Thai firms in money laundering

Picture of police questioning people at a raided location in Phuket courtesy of Bangkok Post

Police in Phuket yesterday and today carried out a series of eight raids prompted by suspicions of a Russian man’s involvement in money laundering and the establishment of fraudulent companies by certain Thais.

These sham firms were purportedly set up to aid foreigners in obtaining visas and work permits, as revealed by Police Major General Montree Theskhan, the commander of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD).

The trigger for these raids was the unearthing of suspicious financial transactions involving a Russian man by the officials. A victim was earlier tricked by a scammer impersonating a provincial electricity official into installing an application software.

This software facilitated the transfer of 500,000 baht from the victim’s bank account to the account of the Russian suspect. The money was then withdrawn from the account registered in Phuket.

According to the CSD commander, the suspect also received cryptocurrencies from non-custodial wallets. Once sold, the proceeds from these cryptocurrencies were transferred to his Thai bank accounts and the cash was immediately withdrawn.

Investigations revealed that this Russian individual also withdrew a total of 186 million baht from three bank accounts at various automatic teller machines (ATMs) between July 7 and November 19 of the previous year. Given the suspiciously high amount of money withdrawn, these transactions could potentially indicate money laundering activities, according to Pol. Maj. Gen. Montree.

Before these events, the Russian suspect had presented a document identifying him as an employee of a company based in Phuket. However, Pol. Col. Phatrawut Onchuai, chief of Crime Suppression Sub-division 5, revealed that the company was non-functional and seemed to have been set up with the sole purpose of creating counterfeit documents to support foreigners’ visa and work permit applications.

This company had two Thai and one Russian woman as directors and shareholders. These women also served as directors and shareholders for 37 other companies. Investigators suspected their involvement in supporting criminal activities by foreigners, leading to the raids on the eight locations associated with these suspected companies, as per Pol. Col. Phatrawut.

During these raids, the officers discovered mostly vacant rooms. The two Thai women admitted to setting up fraudulent companies to assist foreigners in their visa and work permit applications. They also confessed to their involvement in processing such applications. The police operation culminated in the discovery of stamps for over 50 companies, reported Bangkok Post.

Crime NewsPhuket NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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