Thailand’s Immigration to Tighten Visa Extension Rules
Thailand’s Immigration Bureau has apprehended two suspected Chinese and Korean swindlers, the latter of whom is wanted by Interpol, as well as a Korean call centre gang, all of whom were discovered to have overstayed their visas, among other offences.
The Chinese suspect, Ter, 49, was wanted by the Chinese government for defrauding at least 7,000 people out of at least 6 billion baht. Thai authorities also issued a warrant for his arrest for illegally registering a business. He was later released on bail by the Pattaya Police Station.
In 2014, Mr. Ter illegally registered a company called Jiahe in China and allegedly duped people into participating in his investment scam. He evaded arrest in his home country and arrived in Thailand in 2021, through the Thailand Elite Privilege Card.
After receiving a report from an investigation team, authorities arrested Mr Ter at the Chaeng Watthana Government Complex last month.
Meanwhile, the suspected Korean swindler was apprehended after Interpol issued a red notice.
The suspect, identified only as Mr. Yejun, 51, was accused of defrauding dozens of people and acquiring property worth at least 1 billion baht. He arrived in Thailand in August on a tourist visa exemption for 90 days, which expired in November.
The Immigration Bureau also arrested members of a Korean call centre gang based in Chiang Mai, which amassed 50 million baht in phone scams. they too overstayed their visa’s.
The gang, which consisted of five suspects, was previously based in China. They were apprehended in Thailand on Wednesday as a result of the South Korean embassy’s assistance. According to the Immigration, the gang has defrauded at least 30,000 people.
Allegations of kickbacks to Immigration Officials
The Immigration Bureau’s chief said on Thursday that the agency will tighten visa extension rules to prevent foreign criminals from establishing businesses in the country.
Pol Lt Gen Pakpoompipat Sajjapan was responding to former politician Chuwit Kamolvisit’s allegations that three former senior immigration police officers took bribes to approve longer stays for over 3,000 Chinese nationals, many of whom were involved in illegal business activities.
He claimed that the bureau had been strict about visa approvals in the previous year because it was concerned that foreign criminals might exploit loopholes in existing rules, or that some immigration officers might be lax in checking some foreigners’ documents.
“As a result, a working group will be formed to revise rules on visa extension applications that cite work for foundations, the need for medical treatment, and the need to study in both the formal and informal educational systems,” Pol Lt Gen Pakpoompipat explained.
According to Mr Chuwit, some foreigners as old as 50 were granted student visas. In this case, the immigration chief stated that the bureau’s system would be revised.
However, he questioned whether age restrictions on student visas should be imposed in accordance with “the concept of lifelong learning.”
“Foreigners with student visas in Thailand must have certificates from educational institutions.” As a result, educational institutions must do this correctly.
Chinese nationals running grey businesses in Thailand
The Immigration bureau’s regulations are already comprehensive, but all other organizations involved in foreigners’ visa extensions must work closely together,” said Pol Lt Gen Pakpoompipat.
He stated that Immigration Division 5 requested that local schools submit quarterly reports on the educational outcomes of foreign students with student visas. In the absence of such reports, their visas would be revoked, and the foreigners would be required to leave the country, he said.
Similarly, foundations with foreign staff must report on a regular basis on the activities of those foreigners.
“We did this before the issue became public,” Pol Lt Gen Pakpoompipat explained.
Mr Chuwit claims that a Chinese law firm was established in Thailand to assist Chinese nationals who arrived on 30-day tourist visas, and that a Khon Kaen-based foundation was also involved in the visa-extension racket.
The former politician and massage parlour tycoon who exposed “grey businesses” run by Chinese triads in Thailand, is entitled to a reward of 5% of the assets confiscated from the gangsters, according to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin on Thursday.
The minister praised Mr Chuwit for his bravery in providing information to the ministry about the alleged financial activities of major drug networks.
Mr Somsak described him as a good citizen who would be rewarded with 5% of the assets seized from Chinese nationals operating illegal businesses.
For example, if the seized assets were worth approximately 2 billion baht, Mr Chuwit would receive a cash reward of approximately 100 million baht, according to the minister.
According to Mr Somsak, authorities have confiscated assets worth 6,879 million baht from those involved in the illegal drug trade over the last two months.
Chuwit says give money to hospitals
The minister was speaking at a meeting with representatives from 11 state agencies to discuss collaboration and understanding in the seizure of assets from drug traffickers.
Mr. Chuwit, according to the KomChadLuek media outlet, stated that he did not want the reward. Instead, he would direct that the funds be directed to hospitals.
Mr. Chuwit went to the Justice Ministry last month and submitted documents and other information about alleged Chinese triad financial activities in Thailand.
He had previously claimed that after police raided a pub frequented primarily by Chinese nationals in Bangkok’s Yannawa district in late October, a triad boss known as “Mr Tuhao” fled the country on a private jet with the assistance of some state officials.
Small amounts of illegal drugs were discovered on the premises, and a large number of customers tested positive for drug use.
The outspoken former politician had requested that the ministry’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) investigate the matter and seize the triads’ illegal assets.
Tuhao, Chaiyanat Kornchayanant, later turned himself in to police on November 23 after the Bangkok South Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for his alleged involvement in the drug trade. He denied all of the charges, but the court denied him bail because he was a flight risk.
Following that, police raided numerous locations throughout Greater Bangkok, including a luxury housing project in Samut Prakan, where the majority of units were discovered to have been purchased through Thai nominees with suspected ties to Mr. Chaiyanat.
Mr Chuwit also handed over documents detailing Mr. Chaiyanat’s and other Chinese nationals’ financial activities to Deputy National Police Chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn.
He claimed on Wednesday that three former Immigration Bureau division commanders took bribes in exchange for approving applications for non-immigrant visas for at least 3,325 Chinese nationals who entered Thailand as tourists and stayed.
Mr. Chuwit stated that the fees ranged from 100,000 to 300,000 baht per visa.