Ponzi suspect's assets seized

Ponzi suspect's assets seized

The CSD has seized 346 million baht in cash and assets from wanted Chinese call-centre operator Qingduan Zhang, who was arrested a year ago after allegedly sucking thousands of victims into fake 'investment' in a fraudulent telecoms business. (File photo)
The CSD has seized 346 million baht in cash and assets from wanted Chinese call-centre operator Qingduan Zhang, who was arrested a year ago after allegedly sucking thousands of victims into fake 'investment' in a fraudulent telecoms business. (File photo)

The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has seized assets in Thailand worth 346 million baht from Qingduan Zhang, 38, a key suspect in a major Chinese Ponzi scheme case cracked recently.

CSD chief Maitree Chimcherd said the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) has been working with its Chinese counterpart in tracking Mr Zhang's assets in Thailand.

Mr Zhang had allegedly operated call centre scams, in which victims were approached by gang members and lured into investing in a telecommunication business offering extraordinarily high returns, Pol Maj Gen Maitree said.

The suspect had operated the scam first in more than 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of China before he fled to Thailand on Sept 29, 2016.

He was arrested in January last year in Chon Buri's Bang Lamung district where he continued his illegal business, Pol Maj Gen Maitree said.

The arrest followed a request for cooperation by the Chinese authorities to help locate, detain and deport Mr Zhang to face prosecution in China, he said.

In Thailand, Mr Zhang and four other suspects who were also detained recently faced money-laundering charges in connection with their involvement in the call centre-based Ponzi scheme, Pol Maj Gen Maitree said.

The other four were Huang Jinke, Zewn Pu, Aim-on Chitchak, and a man identified only as Chi Tong or Atong, he said, adding all the Chinese suspects have since been deported to face charges in China, except for Ms Aim-on who is a Thai wife of Mr Pu.

However, before they were deported to China, police questioned them and extracted information about the assets they had handled for the call centre, Pol Maj Gen Maitree said.

As for victims of the gang in Thailand, he said, at the end of last year, police received complaints about the gang from 132 people, 74 of whom had transferred money to the gang.

Losses caused by the gang were estimated to be more than 23 million baht, he said, adding the CSD is now speeding up its investigation into the Chinese call centre gang concerning their crimes committed in Thailand.

Meanwhile, two Thai men from the northern province of Phayao have been rescued from a call centre gang operation in Malaysia, said Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakphal, deputy chief of the Tourist Police Division.

Ke Soonklang, 39, and Atthakrit Lachiangkhong, 23, were rescued in a recent operation jointly carried out by the Royal Thai Police and its Malaysian counterpart at a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, Pol Maj Gen Surachet said.

Forty suspects were arrested in the raid on the call centre gang that had lured the two men to work for it by pretending the gang had a restaurant job for them in Malaysia.

It was unclear how big the gang was or how long it had been operating.

When they arrived in Malaysia, they were forced to con Thai victims through the call centre gang, Pol Maj Gen Surachet said.

The two men are currently in the care of the Thai consular section of the Thai embassy in Malaysia.

They are being treated as witnesses in the criminal case being probed by the Malaysian authorities.

In evidence given as part of the investigation, they said they were assaulted and detained when they refused to do the illegal job, he said.


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