Police probe schools linked to Tuhao

Police probe schools linked to Tuhao

Language outlets issuing fake student certificates

Police seize luxury assets for examination during raids on 11 locations in Bangkok and Samut Prakan on Monday. (Photo: Royal Thai Police)
Police seize luxury assets for examination during raids on 11 locations in Bangkok and Samut Prakan on Monday. (Photo: Royal Thai Police)

Police will investigate language schools and immigration officers as they expand their probe into a Chinese criminal syndicate allegedly tied to businessman Chaiyanat "Tuhao" Kornchayanant.

Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn said on Saturday police are looking into the Chinese gang's acquisition of a Thai-language school used to secure student visas for many Chinese nationals whom the gang helped to gain entry to Thailand.

Foundations and schools that issued certificates used by those suspects to secure visas will face legal action, he said. Police will also reveal the identity of a broker who helped the gang find schools for that purpose, he said.

Investigators will also take action against certain immigration officers who were negligent in screening foreigners arriving in the country, Pol Gen Surachate said.

Tuhao turned himself in on Nov 23, after the Bangkok South Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest over his alleged involvement in the drug trade. While he denied all of the charges, the court denied him bail.

On Nov 29, police raided 11 locations across Greater Bangkok, including a luxury housing project in the La Salle area of Samut Prakan. Police searched three out of the 50 houses in the project, which are owned by a suspected nominee of the drug syndicate, a source said.

The main opposition Pheu Thai Party is in the crosshairs after a police probe found that many houses owned by a suspected nominee of the Chinese criminal syndicate allegedly tied to Tuhao were developed by SET-listed developer SC Asset Corporation with members of the Shinawatra family as shareholders, the source said.

According to the SET, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, head of Pheu Thai's inclusion and innovation advisory panel and the youngest daughter of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is the largest shareholder of SC Asset shares with 28.82%, followed by elder daughter Pintongta Shinawatra Kunakornwong with 27.89%. Khunying Potjaman Damapong, Thaksin's former wife, has the fourth-largest shareholding with 2.78%.

Phumtham Wechayachai, an adviser to the Pheu Thai Party leader, tweeted that Chinese nationals involved in "grey businesses" in Thailand had bought the houses from Thai owners who were already handed ownership by the project developer.

Linthiporn Warinwatchararoj, deputy secretary-general of Pheu Thai, on Friday slammed state officials for turning a blind eye to shady businesses operated by Chinese nationals in Thailand.

She asked why police have focussed attention on tackling the problem just ahead of the upcoming election despite the problem being around for quite a while.

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