Senior Thai official caught in Japan for stealing paintings

Senior Thai official caught in Japan for stealing paintings

ฺBangkok Post file photo
ฺBangkok Post file photo

A high-ranking official at the Commerce Ministry has been caught stealing three paintings from a hotel in Kyoto.

Japanese media reported on Wednesday that Tokyo police had arrested a Thai man suspected of stealing three paintings worth 15,000 yen (4,600 baht) in total from the hotel on Tuesday.

The arrest came after the hotel staff discovered that the three paintings decorating the aisles of the hotel's 9th and 10th floors were missing. 

Footage of closed-circuit television cameras showed the Thai guest taking them, Matichon Online reported on Wednesday.

After being alerted, police searched a bag of the guest when he was about to check out and found the three paintings inside. He was held in custody at a police station in Kyoto pending procedures to send him to the court.

According to the police investigation, the suspect only said he worked at the Commerce Ministry. But local media reports said the man was a deputy director-general of the ministry.

Commerce Ministry permanent secretary Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa on Wednesday ordered the commercial attaché in Japan to launch a fact-finding inquiry. The ministry has also coordinated with the Thai embassy in Japan to ask for information while awaiting explanations from the accused official, who could not be contacted for the time being.

"The accused deputy director-general has left for Japan to attend a meeting at the Thai consulate in Osaka. The commerce office in Osaka is coordinating (with Japanese authorities) and legal procedures are being taken. The facts will be known after his return to Thailand’’ said the permanent secretary.

Deputy Commerce Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong promised justice to all sides, saying the results of the ministry's investigation was expected to be known in 1-2 days.

Mr Sonthirat assured that the case was an anomaly that should not affect confidence in Thai officials visiting foreign countries, according to

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said the Thai embassy and consulate in Japan have already learned about the matter from Japanese media and were in the process of coordinating with relevant agencies.

Japanese authorities declined to give personal details of the accused official to protect his rights, said Mr Sek.

The Thai embassy and the consulate would provide an interpreter and a lawyer for the accused official.

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