POLICE ARE looking into whether the 13 babies purportedly linked to surrogacy services were meant to be trafficked, as evidence suggests a Japanese man fathered at least nine infants via surrogate mothers.
Shigeta Mitsutoki, 24, left Thailand early on Thursday after authorities started investigating. The nine babies he is linked to are now under the care of a state-run centre.
In late March and early July, he arrived in Thailand alone but left with an infant.
The clinic that allegedly provided him the surrogacy services, All IVF, has been closed for operating without a proper licence.
"It's registered as a medical facility but not as one offering fertility treatments," Health Service Support Department director-general Boonrueang Trairueangworarat said yesterday.
He said All IVF was closed because without a proper licence its services could cause serious harm or even deaths to others.
He said doctors involved would face a probe by the Medical Council and could lose their licences.
The owner of the clinic faces a jail term and a fine for his failure to ensure that services provided were in line with proper standards.
Although Thailand does not yet have specific laws to control surrogacy, the Medical Council bans paid surrogacy and requires surrogate mothers be either an in-law or a relative of couples seeking help.
Dr Pisit Tantiwattanakul, whose name was used to open All IVF, could not be reached for comment.
Pol Colonel Naphanwut Liamsa-nguan, who heads the Children and Women Protection Subdivision, said police were gathering evidence to determine whether the nine babies linked to Mitsutoki were born through All IVF and who else was involved.
"We have received some useful evidence even though the clinic has clearly relocated its patients' history files," he said during a search of the Bangkok business.
Police discovered the nine babies reportedly fathered by Mitsutoki at a Bangkok condo on Tuesday after receiving a tip from locals.
Thais have become acutely aware of the darker side of surrogacy in the wake of the huge media coverage over Gammy, a baby boy with Down's syndrome allegedly abandoned by an Australian couple. They reportedly hired a Thai woman to be a surrogate mother but left Thailand only with Gammy's healthy twin sister.
The surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, yesterday admitted that she had recruited surrogates twice.
"But I don't do that any more," she said.
Pattaramon was recruited by a woman called "Joy", who insisted that she was not a surrogacy agent but was hired as a coordinator for a fertility clinic.
"My employer is an American," Joy said yesterday. She also confirmed Pattaramon's declared love for Gammy.
Joy said Pattaramon refused to undergo an abortion when tests showed Gammy had Down's syndrome. "After childbirth, she has decided to raise Gammy on her own," Joy said.
An informed source said Ohno Yuki, 17, was Mitsutoki's assistant and she left Thailand for Cambodia on the day police raided the condo where the babies were found.
Available records show Mitsutoki also had a Cambodian passport and he used it for travelling in and out of Thailand 14 times. He used two Japanese passports to travel in and out of Thailand 52 times.
An informed source said it was not unusual for Japanese citizens to hold Cambodian passports, which are issued to Japanese investors.
Naphanwut said it appeared Mitsutoki's sole interest in coming to Thailand related to babies.
A Japanese official said the name Shigeta Mitsutoki was common.