Luxury car importers deny DSI charges

Two importers with alleged links to the four luxury cars that went up in flames on a transporter in Nakhon Ratchasima province on May 29 reported to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to hear charges of customs duty evasion on Thursday.

Naruenart Kwansawas, left, and Thanant Kwansawas, allegedly linked to the luxury cars that went up in flames in Nakhon Ratchasima province last month, report to the Department of Special Investigation on Thursday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Naruenart Kwansawas, alias Sia Boy, and Thanant Kwansawas, were formally charged when they surrendered.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said there was sufficient evidence to prove a link between the two men and the four damaged and two undamaged imported cars on the transporter, which authorities say were part of a customs tax evasion scam. The vehicles included a Lamborghini, Ferraris and a Bentley. 

The four charges against them are smuggling cars that have not passed customs clearance, falsely declaring the car type with intent to avoid paying the proper rate of tax, concealing the cars and selling them on, and transporting the cars without permission.

Mr Tarit said the DSI was still looking for another suspect - Natee Riewthong, alias Peh Kaenduan - who supervised the transportation of the cars that day from Bangkok to Si Sa Ket province, where they were to be registered.

The DSI was continuing to investigate the origins of 548 other luxury cars. Some of the owners have reported to the authorities for questioning, he said.

The cars burnt in Nakhon Ratchasima province have been transported to the Department of Special Investigation office in Bangkok for further inspection. (File photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Pol Lt Col Wannapong Kotcharak, the DSI deputy chief, said the brothers, who were accompanied by a lawyer, denied the charges and said they would  submit evidence related to the six cars to the DSI on June 28. it would substantiate their claim of innocence.

They were released on two million baht bail.

Pol Lt Col Korrawat Panprapakorn, director of the Bureau of Regional Operations Centre, said the two denied they knew Mr Natee or Ar-ngun Juengsaengmanee, owner of the truck transporting the cars to Si Sa Ket.

DSI officials were confident they had adequate evidence to take action against Mr Naruenart and Mr Thanant. They had witnesses and footage from a closed circuit camera in the area which had pictures of the two at a coffee house near the area where the fire broke out.

Mr Nathee is being sought under an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court on June 13. The warrant has been distributed to all police stations.

The fire on the luxury cars-transporter drew widespread attention and prompted the DSI and officials from the Customs, Excise and Transport ministries, and the Thai Industrial Standards Institute under the Industry Ministry,  to dig deeper into other imported cars suspected of tax evasion.

The focus on expensive cars with price tags of four million baht or more has been expanded.

The agency on Tuesday said it had inspected 384 luxury cars and found 301 of them had been falsely declared as being locally reassembled, thereby evading customs duty.

Related search: dsi, luxury cars, dsi, investigation, tax evasion

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columnist
Writer: King-oua Laohong
Position: Reporter