BANGKOK – A young Japanese man has left Thailand after emerging evidence suggests he might have played a key role in a surrogacy gang.
Thai authorities raided a northern Bangkok condominium on Tuesday after a tip-off and found nine babies under the care of nannies. A pregnant woman there said she was acting as a surrogate mother.
A lawyer acting on behalf of the Japanese businessman said his client was the father of all the babies.
The man has been identified as 24-year-old Shigeta Mitsutoki, Bangkok Post reported. He has been a frequent visitor to Thailand over the past two years. Records show he has made a total of 65 visits during the period, the report said.
According to local media, the businessman left Thailand on Thursday. The Nation published a photo on its website showing a man, believed to be the Japanese man, with a baby in his arms.
The latest discovery puts the kingdom’s lax surrogacy laws under scrutiny. It came days after an international outcry over a surrogate baby with Down syndrome, who was allegedly left in Thailand by his Australian parents.
Officials in Bnagkok said Thursday that the draft of a law banning surrogacy has been submitted to the junta’s head of legal and justice affairs and will be forwarded to the newly-established interim legislature for consideration next week.
“Now is good timing, as the steps (toward passing the law) have been completed,” Rarinthip Sirorat, an executive from the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, said at a news conference. “The purpose of this law is to give maximum benefits to the surrogate babies.”
According to the draft, the new law would prohibit commercial surrogacy and those violating the law will face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 baht ($6,200). Agencies, advertisers or recruiters of surrogate mothers will face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,100).
Surrogacy involves a woman who bears a child for someone else, often with an implanted embryo from biological parents unable to do so. Legal doctrine is inconsistent. Countries such as India, Ukraine and Thailand have fairly lenient regulations and are popular for parents in developed countries looking for lower-cost surrogate mothers.