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‘Unusually rich’ Phuket taxi drivers face money laundering probe

Many of the taxi drivers charged in the recent police blitz with a variety of crimes are also “unusually rich”, and now face minute examination of their assets and bank accounts. Already police have found “hundreds of millions of baht”.
Lt Gen Panya Mamen, Commissioner of Police Region 8, explained on Friday (June 6), “Last night, I met Chanchai Pongpasson, Director of AMLO Litigation Division 3, to consider the evidence we have. He asked that policemen collect more evidence.

phuket mafia taxi drivers“In Phuket, 4,000 to 5,000 taxi drivers are legal. We are concerned only with the [108] drivers under investigation.

“Police officers have already found large amounts of money in these people’s accounts – the total is in the hundreds of millions of baht.”

Police believe much of this money was obtained dishonestly, and there may be a lot more out there. They are also expected to look for any money trail that leads back to local influential people.

“Collecting of background information will be clear in two or three weeks. Some of [the taxi drivers] may be worried about us seizing their assets and may have transferred money to other accounts. If we detect them doing this, then they will be charged.

“Suspicious people tend to split their money and leave it with many [friends or relatives].” But they face heavy penalties if detected; the law mandates a prison sentence of up to five years for each money transfer.

Gen Panya also addressed the protection of witnesses against threats from those who have been arrested. “One witness in the Chalong area told us that he had been intimidated by a friend of one of the illegal taxi drivers, who spent time watching the witness’ children at school.

“However, we have a process and a team to protect witness. They will look after them.”
Phuket News

 

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