Immigration officers linked to triad visa racket

Immigration officers linked to triad visa racket

Investigation finds some officials served as 'owners' of foundations set up to help Chinese businessmen

Former massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit submits documents about Chinese nationals running grey businesses in Thailand at the Royal Thai Police headquarters on Dec 1. (File photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Former massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit submits documents about Chinese nationals running grey businesses in Thailand at the Royal Thai Police headquarters on Dec 1. (File photo: Apichart Jinakul)

An investigation into corruption by senior Immigration Bureau (IB) officers has found clear evidence of some officers helping foreign criminals, and even serving as owners of foundations that arranged visas for Chinese nationals.

One of the foundations had its headquarters in a chicken coop, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn said on Thursday, a day after presenting his findings to national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas.

The investigative committee found clear proof of offences such as renewal of visas for Chinese nationals through foundations, visa applications by schools or falsification of signatures of a deputy governor, said Pol Gen Surachate. He did not give more details.

Some officers had used houses and even a chicken coop as offices for foundations set up to apply visas for Chinese nationals. Investigators found some IB officers were owners of foundations that hired agents to falsify documents, said Pol Gen Surachate.

The national chief has ordered drastic action against all of the officers involved, he said.

Police are expected to summon all of the accused officers, ranging from commanders and station heads to officers at the operational level, to hear the charges next week, he added.

The former massage parlour tycoon and politician Chuvit Kamolvisit for weeks has been supplying police and the media with documents said to detail links between corrupt officials and grey businesses run by Chinese triads in Thailand.

He has alleged that three former division commanders of the Immigration Bureau took bribes in exchange for approving non-immigrant visas for 3,325 Chinese nationals who had entered the country on tourist visas.

He said the cost of getting such an application approved by one of the commanders ranged from 100,000 to 300,000 baht per person. This prompted the national police chief to set up an inquiry panel.

In November, Mr Chuvit submitted information about the alleged financial activities of Chinese triads in Thailand to the Justice Ministry.

A number of arrests have since been made, the biggest being that of suspected crime boss Chaiyanat “Tuhao” Kornchanayanant, a Chinese national married to a police officer who is the niece of a former national police chief and deputy prime minister.

Mr Chaiyanat turned himself in on Nov 23 after the Bangkok South Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged involvement in the drug trade. While he denied all the charges, the court denied him bail and he has been in custody ever since.

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board has so far seized assets worth more than 1.1 billion baht from the suspect, according to secretary-general Wichai Chaimongkol.

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