No Thais linked to Laos casino crimes

No Thais linked to Laos casino crimes

The Blue Shield casino operated by the Kings Romans Group stands in the Golden Triangle special economic zone on the banks of the Mekong river in Laos near the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand March 2, 2016. (Reuters file photo)
The Blue Shield casino operated by the Kings Romans Group stands in the Golden Triangle special economic zone on the banks of the Mekong river in Laos near the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand March 2, 2016. (Reuters file photo)

No Thais were found to be involved in money laundering at King Romans casino in Laos, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) says.

The casino was involved with money laundering and drug trafficking, according to Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of the ONCB, who quoted US crime busters.

Mr Sirinya was referring to reports of Thais being implicated in a Thai branch of King Romans Group which runs the casino at the Golden Triangle, an area that overlaps the mountains of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. The casino is in Ton Pheung district in Bokeo, the northern province of Laos. It stands alongside the Mekong River.

Mr Sirinya said he believed Thais have been hired to supervise the management of the company but they were not its executives.

An early probe indicated most shareholders of the casino were Chinese nationals who also founded other casinos in Laos. The ONCB, however, has not found evidence to suggest Thais or Chinese nationals were involved in money laundering as such. The investigation was launched after the alleged casino was blacklisted by the US for money laundering and drug trafficking. Transactions between the US and King Romans Group in Laos and Hong Kong were also halted.

The US later sought cooperation from the ONCB and the Anti-Money Laundering Office to help with the investigation, Mr Sirinya said. The US Treasury Department early on Wednesday announced sanctions against four men and a group of companies allegedly linked to drug and human trafficking throughout the region.

Implicated is Thai national Nat Rungtawankhiri, aka Rungtawankeeree, 41, a resident of Mae Fah Luang district, Chiang Rai. Others are of Australian, Macau-Chinese and Hong Kong nationalities. The four people and the companies may have knowledge of international criminal activities, a US spokesman said.

The King Romans Casino, is owned by Zhao Wei, which is recognised by the US as a transnational crime organisation.

The US said the syndicate is involved with human trafficking, narcotic trading with the United Wa State Army, and engaging in wildlife trafficking including Asiatic black bears, pangolin, tigers, rhinos, and elephants. King Romans Casino is still operating.



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