Tycoon vows action after smuggling bust
A lawyer representing a Myanmar businessman on Thursday threatened to file a complaint against a team of highway police for allegedly abusing their authority and illegally detaining two Myanmar suspects who were arrested for smuggling Thai currency into the country without declaring it to customs.
Ananchai Chaidej, who represents an oil businessman in the neighbouring country, said the arresting police team were not authorised to detain the suspects and they should have handed them over to Mae Sot police for questioning.
He said he would file a complaint against the arresting team with Mae Sot police and with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for malfeasance and illegal detention.
Meanwhile, CSD commander Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej said on Thursday an investigation into the matter will be based on the evidence, saying the owner will have to verify the origin of the cash.
Pol Col Pathak Kwanna, superintendent of the CSD, said a panel would look into the case and the Anti Money Laundering Office (Amlo) will also be brought in to examine the seized cash.
He said the police has also asked the Criminal Court to approve an extension of the detention of the Myanmar suspects.
Meanwhile, Pol Col Man Menyam, superintendent of Highway Police Division 5, dismissed Mr Ananchai's claim that police refused to ask for proof of the transaction when the arrests were made.
"No document was presented to the police. And even if there was a document in question, police would still proceed with the arrests. Their offence was bringing in money without declaring it with customs officials. They were not arrested because they couldn't verify the source of the money," he said.
The Two Myanmar nationals were arrested near Wang Ta Kean in tambon Tha Sai Luad in Tak's Mae Sot district on Wednesday for attempting to smuggle 16.5 million baht in cash into Thailand.
Identified as Ded Paioou, 29, and Namitu, 24, the suspects had the required entry documents but police discovered stacks totalling 16,500 in 1,000-baht banknotes in two black plastic bags. The pair claimed they were going to deposit the cash at a Kasikornbank branch in Mae Sot, according to police. However, the suspects allegedly could not provide evidence that they had an account with Kasikornbank.
On Thursday, Mr Ananchai, who was accompanied by Kich Aungvitulsatit, chairman of the Thai-Myanmar Business Council (TMBC), insisted there was evidence of oil transactions to prove the source of the cash but the police refused to examine it.
Mr Kich said on Thursday that banks in Myanmar were closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19, so couriers are transporting cash to Thailand to make deposits. He said the businessman was unaware of Thai customs regulations and urged police to do their job.
Pol Lt Gen Suthin Sappuang, chief of Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), said he ordered the arresting team to take pictures of cash as evidence and to bring the suspects to an office of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) for further investigation.
According to Pol Lt Gen Suthin, police were performing their duty as the suspects carried large amounts of cash and their activity justified a further probe.
According to the highway police in Mae Sot, the arrests were made following a tip-off about money laundering.
The suspects, who used a Mazda pickup truck with a Myanmar-registered licence plate, entered Thailand via the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge. They were stopped for a search after passing through the immigration checkpoint and police found the cash in the plastic bags.