Bangkok blast: Anti-money laundering office finds money trail

Bangkok blast: Anti-money laundering office finds money trail
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Evidence suggests that money transferred to Thailand from overseas was used for purchase of bomb-making materials and that many more suspects might have played a role in the recent Bangkok bombings, the authorities said.

Anti-Money Laundering Office secretary-general Seehanat Prayoon-rat yesterday told a press conference: "We have convincing evidence in hand. We know where they went to spend the money."

He said 11 people, including Emrah Davutoglu, a Turkish man married to Thai woman Wanna Suansan, played a role in the financial transactions and had a possible link to the bomb attacks. "They are all foreigners," Seehanat said.

Davutoglu and Wanna are on the run after the authorities issued arrest warrants for them. Seehanat said Davutoglu and three other foreigners received remittances from abroad, while seven others transferred the money.

"Money came from two countries," Seehanat said, without elaborating.

The AMLO probe revealed that Davutoglu received about Bt156,000 (S$6,100) from overseas in February, got a similar amount in March and Bt410,000 in April.

Two bomb blasts rocked Bangkok last month. One of them targeted the Erawan Shrine on August 17, killing 20 people and injuring more than 100 others. The other blast took place near the Sathorn pier the following day but did not cause any casualties.

Thai authorities have arrested two suspects in connection with the bombings. One of them, Mieraili Yusufu, told police that the alleged mastermind was Abdulrahman, also known by the aliases Abdus Sattar and Izan. Izan left Thailand on a Bangladesh-bound flight on August 16.

Latest leads obtained by police investigators indicate that the two men involved in the blasts have been in hiding near a border in the South, national police spokesman General Prawut Thavornsiri said yesterday.

They are referred to as "the man in yellow shirt" and "the man in blue shirt" based on what they were wearing on the day of the bombing.

"Thanks to convincing witness testimonies and evidence, we are certain that the suspects are still in hiding, not far from the borderline. We are sure of getting them for prosecution," the police spokesman said.

He added that police would seek an arrest warrant for Izan on Monday.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that he had sought the co-operation from every country, including Bangladesh and China, in the search for Izan who, if he were not the mastermind, was likely involved in the attacks.

National police chief General Somyot Poompanmuang said he could not confirm or deny a report stating that Thailand was yet to coordinate with Bangladeshi authorities on the matter. He said the report might be based on a rumour.

"So many rumours now … I have instructed Immigration Police to keep an eye out for suspects at all checkpoints in the entire country," he said.

The Bangladeshi police said the alleged mastermind had left their country for China after a two-week stay in the country.

Bangladeshi assistant inspector-general (media) Nazrul Islam told The Daily Star online that the suspect arrived in Dhaka on August 16 and left for Beijing on August 30.

An official at the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok told The Nation that the Chinese authorities were not aware of the report. He said Beijing maintained a firm stance on the matter and was waiting for official confirmation from Thai investigators. "We don't comment on rumours," he said.

Prawut, meanwhile, met the Bangladeshi ambassador in Bangkok yesterday to seek information on the movement of the alleged mastermind.

"As far as we know, Izan left Thailand for Bangladesh but there is no clear information as to his next destination," he said.

Information from investigation teams shows that when Izan left Bangkok for Dhaka he had been granted permission to stay in Thailand until December.

There is a lot of confusion over his stay in Thailand that the teams have not yet verified.

Prayut said earlier that he had ordered an investigation into irregularities at the Immigration Department after Somyot disclosed that an arrested bomb suspect had bribed immigration police every time he travelled in and out of Thailand.

Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday that the 11th Military Circle compound can be used as a special detention facility for Yusufu and Karadag for the convenience of prosecutors. He said they would be removed from a Correction Department facility when the military compound was ready.

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