BANGKOK, Jul 16 – A team of Thai investigators will travel to Malaysia soon as part of an in-depth investigation into a Malaysian company which has been accused of being a “transnational crime syndicate” in the kingdom. Bernama was informed that the green light to send Thai investigators to Malaysia was reached during a recent meeting between the two countries on anti-narcotics law enforcement cooperation in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand.
Although the upcoming trip across the border is mainly to exchange information with Malaysia about the firm, the Thai investigators will also use the meeting to follow up on new leads allegedly linking the diversified Malaysian company with the transnational drug trade.
“They will seek more information about the company. They will discuss about evidence and information,” a high-ranking source in the Thai investigation team told Bernama recently. He said the trip to Malaysia had been tentatively scheduled for the end of the month.
“We want to know whether the company’s operations in Thailand and Malaysia are connected,” said the source. Thailand has set up a powerful multi-agency team comprising officers from the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB), Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) and Department of Business Development, to probe the company.
The country’s central bank, Bank of Thailand (BoT), is also assisting in the investigation. Since establishing its foothold in Thailand several years ago, the company has been aggressively expanding its business operations spanning several sectors including property, entertainment, theme park and restaurant, especially in Danok and Hatyai.
Malaysia too has set up a multi-agency task force spearheaded by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, to investigate the Penang-based company. Recently, Malaysian authorities raided several of the company’s premises and frozen several bank accounts amounting to RM177 million, linked to the company.
Another high-ranking source in the Thai narcotics enforcement agency disclosed to Bernama that they began to suspect a link between the company and the drug trade during an investigation into the seizure of 282kg of the synthetic drug “Ice” in March last year.
The drug seizure saw two Malaysian drug couriers nabbed at the Sadao immigration checkpoint. During the interrogation of the suspects, he said, they gave useful information to the investigators. “During a search of the suspects’ house, we found records of financial transactions which made us believe of a link between the seized drugs and the company,” he said.
The discovery of the alleged link, said the source, led the investigators to over a year of investigation on the company and its subsidiaries. In April this year, investigators raided various subsidiaries belonging to the Malaysian company in Hatyai and Sadao. The source said they had sent in requests to question the founder of the Malaysian company for clarification about the 14 million Baht (RM1.75 million) seized from one of its subsidiaries by the ONCB.
“Despite the request (to question the founder), he did not show up and only sent his legal representative and asked for the return of the money, but the head of ONCB refused to relent until the founder can present himself and explain the money trail,” he said. — Bernama