A suspect involved in a Thailand cryptocurrency scam is unable to return home after the Foreign Ministry of Thailand revoked his passport, Bangkok Post reported. This has prevented him to return home to face charges.
Prinya Jaravijit is now illegally staying in the United States, after the Thai government agency revoked his passport. According to the report, Jaravijit is allegedly the mastermind behind a big cryptocurrency scam that defrauded a Finnish investor out of $24 million in 2017.
Police claimed that Jaravijit had worked together with members of his family to defraud Aarni Otava Saarima and his business partner. The suspects had lured the two into investing BTC in a fake investment scheme. It is believed that the scammers used three gambling companies to operate the scheme, which was allegedly perpetrated using a crypto token called Dragon Coin.
The alleged scammers took the investors to a Macau-based casino for the transaction, claiming that the casino was accepting these tokens. The investors transferred the agreed amount of BTC to the suspected scammers’ wallets; however, they began to worry when they did not receive returns for their money. They also did not get any shareholder papers or proof of investments in Dragon Coin. The Finnish investor decided to report the matter to the authorities in January.
When the case was reported, Jaravijit was in the United States. Authorities asked him to surrender, giving him until September 17 to comply with the order. However, Jaravijit failed to do so, causing authorities to revoke his passport. Reports showed that he will soon be extradited to Thailand in order to face the charges against him.
According to reports, the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) confiscated funds worth $6.4 million from Jaravijit’s family and other people who were suspected to be involved in the matter this past Tuesday. The family and the accomplices will be charged next week with money laundering.
Other people believed to be part of the operation include an investor, Prasit Srisuwan, and a businessman, Chakrit Ahmed. The two have reportedly agreed on a compensation plan with the Finnish investor.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
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Concerned about the growing number of cryptocurrency-related crimes, Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is looking to expand its powers to allow for seizure of digital assets, including cryptocurrency wallets.
“We have discussed launching our own ‘AMLO Wallet’ to hold or confiscate digital currency from illegal sources,” AMLO Secretary Witthaya Neetitham said during a recent seminar in Bangkok, according to a report from news outlet The Nation.
The desired legislation would also come in handy for the confiscation of cryptocurrency earnings from other crimes. The Nation article cited a case where Thai police had arrested the operator of a child pornography website whose digital wallet contained THB123 million ($3.8 million). “We found bitcoin in his e-wallet, but had to leave it there because we don’t have any regulations [for such seizures],” Police Captain Ekkanit Nathethong said.
Witthaya said that AMLO did have authority over companies licensed by the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission, but when it came to unlicensed entities, “We cannot identify the cryptocurrency operator or receivers when duped victims transfer money to the criminals.”
Chartpong Chirabandhu, of the Office of the Attorney General, shared that prosecutors were limited in their ability to use electronic evidence in building a case against cybercriminals.
Recently, a Finnish businessman was defrauded of $24.4 million worth of cryptocurrencies by Thai suspects, who have since admitted to the crime and are participating in negotiations for the return of the stolen amount. The suspects had invested the funds of Aarni Otavi Saarimaa in three companies, before running off with the money.
Colonel Pisal Erb-Arb, deputy commander of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, proposed a working panel tasked to fight cybercrime. “We need to hurry. Thailand is a haven for money laundering that finances terrorism,” said Pisal, who helped with the arrest of Alexander Cazes, founder of dark web marketplace AlphaBay, where users transacted in cryptocurrencies.
The Thai government has made several policy changes with its growing awareness of cryptocurrencies. Last month, the Bank of Thailand, the country’s central bank, reversed its earlier ban on banks engaging in cryptocurrency-related activities. Now, banks are permitted to create subsidiaries for the purpose of cryptocurrency transactions, issuance of tokens, and the like.
The SEC began its regulation of cryptocurrency-related activities last May, and has approved five exchanges and two dealers since.