CHON BURI: Sixteen Chinese nationals suspected of running an illegal online money-lending business were arrested during a police raid in the beach town of Pattaya beach town on Wednesday.
Police and immigration officers raided a three-story townhouse in tambon Nong Prue of Bang Lamung district at around 3pm on Wednesday following information that a gang of foreign nationals had been using the house as an operations base providing illegal online money-lending services to clients in Hong Kong.
When entering the premises, the team found 16 Chinese nationals working inside the townhouse. Desktop computers, a computer notebook, a copier machine, 20 mobile phones and numerous documents connected with illegal money-lending services were seized.
Pol Maj Gen Kitthanet Thanananthaweesin, Chon Buri police chief, said the foreign money-lending gang had entered Thailand six months ago and kept changing accommodation to avoid being arrested. They later moved to the rented townhouse in Pattaya before being arrested.
An investigation found the 16 Chinese nationals had entered the country on tourist visas. They had not yet overstayed their visas, but provided illegal money-lending services to clients in Hong Kong and charged interest rates as high as 50%. There were hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars in monthly circulation from many customers, said Pol Maj Gen Kitthanet.
During questioning, the suspects confessed they had chosen Thailand as a base to run their business as it was far from their country. Besides, travel and accommodation costs and other expenses were low.
The suspects were held in police custody at Pattaya police station for working in the country without permission. They would be handed over to Hong Kong authorities to face charges relating to running an illegal money-lending business.