11 July 2024

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has taken on the investigation of Chinese businessman Chaiyanat Kornchayanant, aka “Tuhao”, but only as it relates to alleged money laundering, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin told a news conference on Thursday.

He said that the DSI has found that some of the offences allegedly committed by Chaiyanat are in violation of the anti-money laundering law and, therefore, it has the authority to investigate the case without the consent of the special case committee.

DSI Deputy Director-General Pol Maj Yuthana Praedam, meanwhile, explained that the other offences, not related to money laundering, are still under the jurisdiction of the police and the Office of the Attorney-General.

He said that, in the next two weeks, DSI officials will summon people implicated in the case for questioning and will employ special techniques to trace Chaiyanat’s money trail and financial transactions.

To date, assets worth about 4 billion baht, belonging to Chaiyanat and his network, have been impounded by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, with the remaining assets, worth about 1.2 billion baht, still being investigated.

Former massage parlour tycoon and whistle-blower Chuwit Kamolvisit thanked the justice minister today for accepting the money laundering aspect of the case as a special case, as he questioned why the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau had not filed a money laundering charge against Chaiyanat.

Chuwit has mounted a solo campaign, through media outlets, against what he alleges are grey businesses run by Chinese businessmen.

Yesterday, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national police chief, said that they have not found any evidence to substantiate a charge of transnational crimes against Chaiyanat, as demanded by Chuwit.

He said that police must have clear evidence of illegal activity committed abroad by Chaiyanat or his network, such as plotting or planning to commit offences in Thailand, before it can press a transnational crime charge, otherwise, it could be dismissed by the public prosecutors.

He also said that the “Happy Water” narcotic, recently found in a pub in Bangkok’s Yannawa district, allegedly operated by Chaiyanat’s network, was not imported from abroad but was concocted locally.