Almost all of the Bt98 million in undeclared Thai banknotes halted at the Lao border on Tuesday appears to be headed for state coffers.
The two Lao brothers arrested trying to carry the money into Laos from Nong Khai agreed to pay a Bt40,000 fine and let Thailand keep Bt94 million, thus avoiding further prosecution, after the money was deemed to have been illegally acquired.
If the Customs Department agrees to the arrangement proposed by its Nong Khai office, Suebanh Tiasili, 30, and Khumborn Tiasyly, 24, would walk away with Bt4 million, Nong Khai Customs chief Nimit Saeng-ampai said on Wednesday evening.
For now, the Bt98 million is sitting in a bank.
The brothers maintain that they’d collected the cash for their currency-exchange business in Laos. But they allegedly failed to declare to their own government the exchange of a substantial amount of US dollars for baht, as required by law.
Nimit cited a Customs regulation that anyone transporting undeclared cash valued between Bt450,000 and Bt2 million across the border is liable to a Bt20,000 fine, while larger amounts draw a Bt40,000 fine.
The regulation stipulates how much of the money is to be returned to the offender and how much is to be confiscated.
Nimit alleged that the brothers had travelled in and out of Thailand at least five times in November and four times in December, transporting cash each time.
They allegedly confessed to exchanging US$800,000 on a previous trip and $2.8 million this time.
Nimit said his office would henceforth be stricter about checking personal vehicles leaving the country for drugs and unusual amounts of cash. He also plans to seek the cooperation of banks in notifying the office about substantial currency exchanges.