ONCB confirms jet seizure in U-turn
The Office of Narcotics Control Board has seized a private jet and other assets belonging to Chaiyanat "Tuhao" Kornchayanant, an alleged leader of a Chinese crime syndicate under investigation over his links to the drug trade.
Secretary to the Justice Minister, Sub Lt Thanakrit Jitareerat, confirmed on Sunday that a private jet that was being serviced in Bo Fai airfield in Prachuap Khiri Khan was impounded for further examination, along with other assets linked to Mr Chaiyanat.
The ONCB had initially denied impounding the jet, rejecting claims by ex-politician and massage parlour tycoon Chuwit Kamolvisit that the plane parked at Bo Fai airfield belongs to Mr Chaiyanat.
The jet was seized as Mr Chaiyanat is listed as a shareholder in a company that owns the aircraft, he said, before adding that a taskforce under Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin is looking into the suspect's financial transactions to trace other drug-related assets.
ONCB secretary-general Wichai Chaimongkol said the company has been asked to provide documents proving the jet's ownership by the end of the week.
He added that over 40 bank accounts linked to Mr Chaiyanat have been frozen.
Each has a balance of around 800,000 to 900,000 baht and police are looking into all listed transactions as part of their investigation.
Mr Wichai said assets belonging to the suspect's wife — a Thai police colonel attached to the police foreign affairs sub-division and a niece of a former senior police officer — will also be frozen, and she will be called in to clarify the origins of the seized assets.
If she cannot adequately explain how she came to own the assets, authorities will decide on the assets' fate, he said.
He said the ONCB will take action against anyone found to be involved with the drug trade.
The businessman, wanted on a warrant issued by the Bangkok South Criminal Court for alleged involvement in the drug trade, turned himself in last Wednesday.
The investigation followed Mr Chuwit's call on the Justice Ministry to investigate Chinese triads whom he said were laundering drug money through "grey businesses" in Thailand.
Mr Chuwit alleged that a triad boss named Tuhao fled the country on a private plane with the assistance of state officials just hours after police raided a pub in Yannawa district linked to him last month.