Anti-money laundering agency eyes more dens
Amlo tracing real owners of Tao Poon casino seized in JanThe Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) last month seized the Tao Poon casino in Bang Sue district, and has two or three more illegal gambling dens in its sights.
The land on which the Tao Poon casino sits is worth Bt10 million. Sihanart Prayoonrat, director-general of AMLO, said yesterday that Samart Singjamnong, the food vendor listed on the title deed as the owner of the land, was just a "nominee".
Police would trace money transactions to determine who the real landowner was, he said.
The land had been subleased a few times and currently was rented to gambling den operator Winyoo Sri-ngernyeung, he said.
AMLO instructed the Lands Office to freeze the property and notified the owner about the action on January 29, he said.
If the owner couldn't convince authorities within 90 days that the source of funds used to acquire the parcel was above board and the site wasn't used for vice activities, AMLO would ask the public prosecutor to seek a civil court order to transfer the land to the state. This wasn't a political move or discrimination against a certain group, he said.
A major raid was launched on the Tao Poon den on December 21, 2011, when 100 police officers swooped in and arrested 199 gamblers and a woman dishwasher were arrested. Many slot machines and gambling paraphernalia, as well as chips worth millions of baht, were confiscated.
The operation behind metal gates was protected by the Tao Poon community, which reportedly refused to cooperate with police in catching the gamblers, so it was difficult for police to gain access.
AMLO also seized Yihad Witthaya School in Ban Tha Dan of Tambon Taloh Kapo in Pattani's Yaring district, which was found to be used as a training facility for separatist militants, he said. The 14-rai parcel on which the school was located had an estimated value of Bt590,000, he said.