BANGKOK – Thai National Paiboon Srivachararoj has been arrested in Bangkok with a number of fake foreign passports and Thai visa stickers and has been charged him with forgery of official documents, the immigration police announced at a press conference on Monday.
Pol Maj Gen Ronnasilp Phusara, chief of the investigation division of the Immigration Police Bureau (IPB), said following a joint investigation with the Armed Forces Security Centre, Paiboon Srivachararoj, 55, was arrested on Aug 24 at a restaurant in Soi Charoenkrung 105 in Bang Kholaem district, where he had made an appointment to hand over the forged documents to a client.
Authorities seized a green plastic bag in his possession containing 18 fake French passports, 25 forged Spanish passports and 25 fake visa stickers each for Canada, India and Indonesia.
Officials of the five embassies were invited to examine the fake passports and visa stickers, and said they were very similar to the real ones, but the differences could be seen with bare eyes.
Pol Maj Gen Ronnasilp said that according to the suspect, the fake visas were sold at 1,000 baht each and the forged passports at 2,000 baht each.
Pol Maj Gen Chitnupong Yukkathat, deputy IPB chief, said owners of houses for rent and hotels who suspect their clients may be carrying a fake passport or using a fake visa can contact the IPB at hotline 1178 for verification.
The announced arrest of Mr Paiboon followed the revelation by Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul that the ministry had cancelled 2,000 visa stickers that disappeared while being delivered to the Thai embassy in The Hague, the Netherlands.
This comes on top of the admitted disappearance of 300 numbered visa stickers from the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur, many of which had already been used to enter and leave the country by people on the immigration watch list.
Deputy permanent foreign secretary Nattawut Pothisaro said the ministry usually sends visa stickers and other official documents in a mail pouch via a commercial airline to Thai embassies around the world.
For the delivery to The Hague, the embassy usually sends the mail pouch by a Thai Airways International flight to Frankfurt, Germany. From Frankfurt, the pouch is then carried by Lufthansa, as there is no direct Thai Airways flight to The Hague.
The missing 2,000 visa labels were sent in July, but the Thai embassy at the Hague said it did not receive them. The ministry asked Lufthansa to check, but the airline could not find the mail pouch and accepted responsibility.
The ministry had since cancelled the numbers of the 2,000 missing visa stickers, Mr Nattawut said.
Asked abut the 300 missing visa labels from the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Nattawut said this happened in October last year, but the ministry knew about it only in July this year.
He said immigration police were investigating the case.