Tuhao’s wife faces money-laundering charges

Police-colonel niece of former deputy PM among seven nabbed as net tightens around Chinese gangsters

Chinese businessman Chaiyanat “Tuhao” Kornchayanant (right) sits in a police vehicle after his arrest on Nov 23. (File photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Chinese businessman Chaiyanat “Tuhao” Kornchayanant (right) sits in a police vehicle after his arrest on Nov 23. (File photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Police have arrested the police colonel wife of alleged Chinese triad leader Chaiyanat “Tuhao” Kornchayanant, who is accused of involvement in the drug trade, and six other people in Bangkok.

Investigators from the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB), armed with warrants issued by the Bangkok South Criminal Court, raided a condominium unit in Bangkok on Saturday afternoon to arrest Pol Col Wanthanaree Kornchayanant.

Pol Col Wanthanaree was attached the foreign affairs sub-division of the Royal Thai Police. She is a niece of Pol Gen Pracha Promnok, a former national police chief who also served as a deputy prime minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

She and the other six suspects were being interrogated at the MPB. No media members were allowed near the session. After questioning, they were to be detained at the Yannawa police station.

Mr Chaiyanat has been in custody since Nov 23 when he surrendered to deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn. He was wanted on an arrest warrant for collusion in the illicit drug trade and illegal possession of a psychotropic substance with intent to sell. He denied all charges, but the court denied his release on bail, ruling him a flight risk.

Before his surrender on that day, police searched two locations in Bangkok — a 200-million-baht mansion on Rama V Road and at a luxury hotel in downtown Bangkok — believed to have been used by Mr Chaiyanat. The businessman was not in the house. Police found only his wife.

Subsequently, police raided many locations across Greater Bangkok, including a luxury housing project in Samut Prakan where most of the units were found to have been purchased through Thai nominees with suspected links to Mr Chaiyanat.

Assets, including a luxury resort and cars, worth about 3 billion baht, have been seized from Mr Chaiyanat so far.

Former massage parlour tycoon and politician Chuvit Kamolvisit first exposed the “grey businesses” run in Thailand by Chinese triads, one of which was headed by Tuhao, he said.

He has since been unrelenting in his attempts to expose the full extent of Chinese gangsters’ activities and to press law enforcement authorities to take firm action.

This week he submitted more evidence to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), asking it to press a charge of money laundering against Mr Chaiyanat.