Mafia pull alive and well
Over the past two weeks, police have launched a series of crackdowns on "grey businesses" in several provinces allegedly linked to the Chinese businessman and alleged triad boss known as "Tuhao".
The police led by Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, the deputy national police chief, have confiscated assets concerning those businesses worth more than 5 billion baht, including supercars, a private jet and 200-million-baht mansion in Bangkok's leafy suburbs.
Tuhao, or Chaiyanat Kornchayanant as he is known, is accused of being involved in narcotics confiscated at an illegal pub in Yannawa district that is believed to be owned by him. He is also under investigation for his links with a number of other businesses, including pubs and night entertainment outlets, a thriving jewellery business, zero-dollar tours and property, which are believed to be funded by "dirty" money. He denies all charges.
The scale of the local narcotics trade and "grey business" networks have raised questions about how these accused Chinese businessmen can operate such dubious concerns and make a fortune in Thailand without police knowledge. Imagine how long such "grey businesses" have to be run until their assets and wealth can reach the multi-billions of baht.
It is said Tuhao has good connections with "big" figures, including senior police and politicians of various camps. As a Thai citizen, a status he derived a few years ago, Tuhao donated 3 million baht to the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, as confirmed by the party's chief strategist Somsak Thepsutin, who is also justice minister.
Tuhao has a Thai wife, a policewoman. According to information that former politician and massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit submitted to the police and unveiled to the public, Tuhao's wife is a niece-in-law of Pol Gen Pracha Promnok, former deputy prime minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
Tuhao was charged with masterminding an attempted murder in the case where a group of strongmen invaded a snake park in Phuket, set fire to it and assaulted a security guard. But prosecutors dismissed the case reportedly just after one day of consideration.
Pol Gen Surachate said a probe found that several Chinese suspects in "grey business" cases have used tourist visas to enter Thailand which they then change to student visas to extend their stay even though they are 50–60 years old. How were their visas changed without the support of authorities? Several suspects also reportedly hold Thai ID cards.
How these Chinese businesspeople also came to own various businesses and properties in Thailand is also a big question. Who are their nominees or who is behind the ploys that helped them avoid legal problems?
Six years ago, police launched a crackdown against a network of zero-dollar tours, thought to be the country's largest business group organised to defraud Chinese visitors. Seven Thai nationals were accused of running the country's biggest zero-dollar tour network. In March this year, the Supreme Court acquitted the seven accused and six companies of charges relating to the zero-dollar tours. The court found the accusations were not warranted.
One question is whether the crackdown six years ago paved the way for Tuhao's and other Chinese "grey businesses" by removing potential rivals. Regardless, it is clear the police, Immigration Bureau, public prosecutors, Provincial Administration Department and the government have to come together to tackle triads, just as they cracked down on zero-dollar tours in the past.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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