May 07, 2014 00:00
By Piyanut Tumnukasetchai
The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has seized assets worth over Bt1 billion from a group that allegedly ran a cross-border trade in illegal Siamese rosewood and pangolins.
It has also seized Bt3.7 billion in assets from an alleged fraud by executives of the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative. AMLO secretary-general Pol Colonel Sihanart Prayoonrat told a press conference yesterday the agency had seized 98 items worth Bt1.183 billion from Kampanart Chaimart and accomplices who were accused of financing illegal Siamese rosewood logging and wildlife trade in the Northeast.
The assets seized during Monday’s raid on the premises in Chaiyaphum province included 24 plots of land, 29 cars and Bt6 million in cash as well as a car dealer’s shop and a zoo. Sihanart said the officials believed the gang opened the zoo as a cover-up business to keep wildlife animals, especially pangolins, which the gang sent mainly to the South.
Sihanart said Kampanart was arrested on April 19 while carrying Bt4.7 million in cash on a trip to allegedly buy rosewood in Nakhon Ratchasima province. Police also earlier arrested Jakkarin Larpchai and others in relation to the illegal logging, which police allege Kampanart financed.
When Jakkarin and others had been placed under arrest a politician’s brother, on behalf of the suspects, allegedly attempted to bribe police officials with Bt1.5 million cash.
Sihanart also reported progress in an alleged fraud case involving executives of the Klongchan Credit Union Co-operative.
He said AMLO had conducted five rounds of asset seizure, collecting a total of 609 items worth Bt3.793 billion.
AMLO also contacted the Department of Special Investigation to protect the rights of alleged fraud victims by taking out land to sell so the money could be used to mitigate the losses of the cooperative’s members. He urged members who hadn’t received their money back to file a request for “rights protection” with the AMLO. The cooperative has nearly 50,000 members.
In a related event, Ubon Ratchathani police arrested two men along with 150 pieces of Siamese rosewood at a checkpoint in Muang district early yesterday morning. The duo, who also tested positive for drug abuse, reportedly told police they were hired by an investor in Amnat Charoen for Bt10,000 to transport the wood pieces. They allegedly admitted to having made the same trip three times in the past two months.