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Thailand News: Thai-Americans charged with exporting firearm parts – update; Tax loss on luxury cars; Man dies after ambulance moved

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

UPDATE: Thais arrested in US over suspicious gun-parts shipments
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: National Police Chief Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew has assigned a deputy to handle a case in which US authorities have arrested and indicted three Thais and three Thai-Americans on charges of illegally exporting restricted firearm parts from the US to Thailand on more than 240 occasions in the past three years.

Apart from assigning Pol General Pansiri Prapawat to handle the issue, Adul also instructed a police unit that handles firearms-related investigations to join the probe, and instructed the chief of the police’s Foreign Affairs Division, Pol Maj-General Manote Tantrathien, to contact US authorities and request information from them.

The move came after US federal prosecutors on Monday announced the arrests over the weekend of the two women and four men for conspiring and then attempting to violate the US Arms Control Export Act (click here for story).

Thai citizen Supanee Saeng-uthai, 35, was arrested in Berkeley, California, while another Thai, Nares Lekhakul, 36, was detained in Bellevue, Washington state, and his elder brother Naris Lekhakul, 42, was arrested at the Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport in the same state. Three Americans of Thai origin were also arrested: Witt Sittikornwanish, 24, and Sangsit Mowanna, 35, were arrested in Los Angeles, while Wimol Brumme, 41, was detained in Las Vegas.

The chief of the US Attorney’s Office in Seattle, Jenny Durkan, said on Tuesday that the arrests happened over the weekend.

Naris reportedly served to an adviser to a former Bangkok governor in 2000.

Durkan’s office described Naris as the ringleader. He was arrested at SeaTac as he arrived from Thailand, the office said.

Prosecutors say that between 2011 and 2013, the group concealed weapons parts in cargo shipped to Asia under misleading labels. Officials allege the group is responsible for at least 240 shipments.

The suspects did not obtain licences to make firearms shipments, used false names and invoices to avoid detection, packed the goods in certain ways to avoid detection by X-ray scanners and falsely labelled the contents of packages, according to the US Attorney’s Office. The packages did not contain details on further destinations inside Thailand or the intended recipients of the firearms components here, the office said.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand News section, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter at @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Country lost B20bn revenue from untaxed luxury cars
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Untaxed luxury cars probably cost the country more than 20 billion baht in lost revenue, according to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit made the estimate based on the assumption that more than 8,000 luxury vehicles in the country had been or were about to be registered illegally.

A total of 5,834 registered luxury cars were suspected of getting their papers through a tax-evasion process. Some 3,000 others were in the process of receiving registration papers through a system officials said was illegal.

Major Sukchart Sasomsap reported himself to the DSI last night, after a licence plate number that he once owned was linked to an alleged tax-evading vehicle.

Sukchart is a son of Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap.

A DSI source earlier suggested the tax-evading scheme involved politicians or persons with political connections.

Many luxury cars were smuggled into the country, but were later registered under claims they were imported as auto parts and re-assembled later.

Tharit said Thailand has no facility to reassemble super cars. Therefore, super cars that have been registered as reassembled in Thailand must have used false documents.

The DSI will today search four facilities that have been identified as places where auto parts are assembled into super cars.

“But from information we have received, these places do not have the technology to assemble luxury cars. They are just godowns,” he said.

The DSI will today meet with the Land Transport Department, the Excise Department, the Customs Department and the Central Institute of Forensic Science to discuss tax-evading vehicle schemes.

The imported luxury cars are usually subject to a tax rate of between 200 and 314 per cent. Using certain illegal methods, the tax rate can be reduced to just 30 to 50 per cent.

The issue came under the spotlight after some luxury cars in a trailer caught fire in Nakhon Ratchasima while they were on their way to Si Sa Ket last week. Nobody has stepped forward to claim ownership of the vehicles.

One licence plate found among the burned cars allegedly had a link to Sukchart.

A senior policeman, Colonel Panu Buranasiri said some government officials must have been involved in the tax-evading scheme because relevant documents appeared genuine.

He is now looking into a request to retroactively register seven luxury cars in Si Sa Ket, and a case in Nakhon Ratchasima,” Panu said.

Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt also ordered a probe into the Nonthaburi Transport Office after statistics showed that up to 2,741 reassembled luxury vehicles were registered under its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Industry Ministry spokesman Nattapon Nattasomboon said there were 89 entrepreneurs registering themselves as car reassemblers. “But it seems only 10 have really operated their reassembling lines,” he said.

“If they don’t have the reassembling lines, they will face a maximum fine of Bt200,000 and/or a jail term of up to two years,” Nattapon said.

He added that the Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) would work with the DSI in taking action against those behind reassembled vehicles that did not undergo TISI inspections.

“We plan to investigate reassembled motorcycles, too,” Nattapon said. He believed there were about 1,000 such motorcycles in Thailand.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand News section, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter at @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Injured man dies after cop tells ambulance to move
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A man seriously injured in a motorcycle accident y

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Thailand

British tourists come forward about being attacked on Koh Tao in 2013

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by Valeriy Ryasnyanskiy for Unsplash

Many continue to contend that Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, the 2 Burmese young men convicted for the 2014 murder of 2 tourists on Koh Tao’s Sairee Beach, are innocent. Now 2 tourists who were attacked on the same beach, just a year before the murder, are now coming forward to help prove that the conviction could have been unreliable.

In September 2014, the bodies of British tourists 23 year old Hannah Witheridge and 24 year old David Miller were found on the beach. Police say Hannah had been raped and David had been hit several times on the head with a garden hoe.

Zaw and Wai were arrested soon after the killings. Some say the investigation was accelerated in an effort to gain back tourist confidence and keep visitors coming to the island. Numerous activists, criminologists, and others have spoken out against the conviction, saying the evidence was bungled.

Just a year before, British tourists Sam Venning and Carla Bartel survived an attack on the same beach. Sam, who was 22 at the time, was talking to Carla, who was 20, on the beach when 2 men wearing V for Vendetta masks attacked them, hitting Sam in the head with a rock.

Sam and Carla came forward to Thai officials after the killings to help with the investigation, but say no one got back to them. Sam says he had emailed the Thai Embassy in London, but no one contacted him. Carla says she contacted the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office who then passed her on to the UK National Crime Agency. She was told that the information was sent to Thai police, but officers did not follow up with her.

SOURCE: Mirror.UK

 

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Phuket

Fishermen find space debris off the coast of Phuket

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Phuket Andaman News

Local fishermen found space debris, possibly from a satellite or space shuttle, on the seabed just 6 metres below the surface by Koh Ael in Phuket. At first, no one knew exactly what it was.

Specialists from a Navy explosive ordnance disposal unit were first called to look at the round, hollow metal object which was about 45 centimetres in diameter. 3rd Naval Area commander Vice Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet told reporters at a press conference that the team took photos of the object and found it appeared to be a rocket fuel tank, possibly used to launch a satellite or shuttle into space. He said it matched photos online.

Both the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, or GISTDA, and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, agree that the object was most likely a fuel tank for a rocket.

Since the fuel tanks usually contain harmful chemicals like ammonia or hydrogen, divers examined the space debris to make sure there were no chemical leaks before bringing the object to shore and taken to the navy headquarters. The space debris will be taken to the GISTDA to be studied.

“If other objects similar to this one are found elsewhere, people should not touch them. They could contain hazardous chemicals. They should immediately inform Region 3 Thai-MECC or local officials.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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UPDATE: 2 Americans and a Thai arrested over Bangkok kidnap attempt, Thai policeman involved | VIDEO

Tanutam Thawan

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Screenshot: THAICRIME

UPDATE:

Following up from the earlier story involving 2 Americans, a Thai, a Taiwanese businessman, and an Israeli security goon, we have the following update (original story below)…

Police have examined CCTV from the restaurant in Thong Lor where the Taiwanese businessman was kidnapped. It’s also been revealed that a “senior Thai policeman” was involved in the alleged abduction case. The abduction took place on March 28.

The meeting had been called to “resolve” some disagreements over a large purchase of rubber gloves that had gone wrong.

After arriving at a meeting at the L’Oliva restaurant in Sukhumvit Soi 26, Mr. Wen Yu Chung was manhandled, put in a headlock and dragged out of the premises. Daily News reports that a “lieutenant colonel” ranked Thai policeman was also captured on the CCTV supervising the events as they happened inside the restaurant. He is reported as being a former traffic policeman.

Mr. Chung was then held to ransom at the condo NT Court. Attempts were made to contact Mr Chung’s family and business associates to extract a ransom – allegedly 1 and 2 million baht – but they refused to pay.

The 3 men have been identified as 41 year old Jeremy Hughes Manchester, 52 year old Louis William Ziskin, both Americans, and Ekbodin Prasitnarit, Thai.

Mr Louis Ziskin has a somewhat chequered history with his story catalogued on Wikipedia. Summarised…

Ziskin was taken into custody in December 7, 2000 and charged over transactions from November 1999 to December 22, 1999. Ziskin was convicted of smuggling 700 pounds of ecstasy into Southern California via FedEx and other various shipping companies, the largest-ever US government seizure of the drug. There was another indictment a year later.

Following his incarceration, Ziskin lost a double jeopardy appeal for the second indictment. The US government settled all claims against Ziskin for a 188 month sentence and a US$9 million fine.

Daily News also reported a man ‘Mike’ who allegedly invited the policeman to be involved in the incident. Earlier this man was described as “Mr. Michael Greenberg, an Israeli operating a detective company”.

Here’s video showing the arrest of Mr. Ziskin…

EARLIER STORY:

Thai police have arrested 2 American citizens and a Thai for the alleged kidnap of a Taiwanese businessman for ransom. 5 other arrest warrants are also waiting to be executed over the incident. Police allege a “business conflict” over the purchase of plastic ‘nitrile’ gloves as the motive.

The 3 men have been identified as 41 year old Jeremy Hughes Manchester, 52 year old Louis William Ziskin, both Americans, and Ekbodin Prasitnarit, Thai. All 3 have denied the charges including illegal assembly, attempted murder, abduction for ransom and extortion. They were formally charged at the Thong Lor police.

According to Bangkok Post, in late 2020 Mr Ziskin appointed the Collection Company to negotiate the purchase of a large quantity of plastic gloves with the Paddy The Room Trading Company.

Police allege that there was an ongoing conflict between the two sides which was responsible for Mr Ziskin accumulating 93 million baht in damages.. So, according to police, Mr Ziskin hired Mr. Michael Greenberg, an Israeli operating a detective company in Thailand to negotiate and retrieve the losses.

Police allege that Mr Greenberg hired Thai and foreign collaborators to plan an abduction as leverage in the retrieval of their losses. They contacted a 60 year old Taiwanese man from the Collection Company in Thailand to procure a supply of rubber gloves from Paddy The Room Trading Company.

They made an appointment to meet Wen Yu Chung at a restaurant in Bangkok’s in Bangkok’s Tong Lor are off Sukhumvit Road on March 28. Police allege that Mr Greenberg and hired associates arrived, handcuffed the Taiwanese businessman and then took him to the NT Place, 200 metres further south down the same Soi, Sukhumvit 36.

They then called Mr Chung’s boss demanding US$2 million, and then called the man’s family demanding another US$1 million. Both contacted police and did nothing to accede to the demands for ransom..

The abductors then headed to a restaurant in Soi 24, with Mr. Chung, eventually letting him go. The Taiwanese man went, first to hospital, then to Thong Lor police station to relate his story. Eventually 8 arrest warrants were issued over the alleged abduction. Soon after police arrested Mr Manchester, Mr Ziskin and Mr Ekbodin.

We’ll continue to follow this story.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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