83 million baht in cash seized from a hotel suspected to be involved in money laundering

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Officials from the Department of Special Investigation, police and the southern regional Internal Security Operations Command seized 83 million baht in Thai and foreign currencies in a raid of a foreign-owned hotel in Songkhla’s Sadao district on Thursday.

The Wai hotel in Tambon Samnak Kham is affiliated with MBI group is said by the officials of owning six chain hotels, two resorts, nine apartment buildings, a housing estate called Asean Cultural Village a horse stable worth altogether about two billion baht. Officials suspected that MBI group was involved in money laundering business.

MBI group is led by a Malaysian identified as Teo Hui-huad as the managing director with Ms Nanthapak Panuwattankul and Nopparoj Siripatthanapark as members of the management in charge of all the businesses in Sadao district.

The 83 million baht cash in Thai baht, Malaysian riggit, Taiwanese dollars and Chinese Yuan currencies was stuffed in several baggages kept in Room No 401.

An informed source said that the Anti-Money Laundering Office would be asked to investigate the sources of the seized money whereas the DSI will investigate the group’s business transactions and registration in Thailand.

A source in the southern ISOC said that KPK hotel which is owned by the group is wellknown to be a favourite joint of senior government officials and several of them have stakes in the hotel which is why the hotel has been left untouched by local officials despite the fact that the entertainment venues in the hotel have been operating beyond the permissible hours.

The same source said that a Malaysian billionaire, Mr Lee Ar Han, who was shot dead by gunmen in Tambon Ban Phru, Hat Yai district about two months ago used to be a major shareholder in MBI group.