BANGKOK, March 21 (The Nation Thailand/ANN): Three police officers were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly kidnapping a Chinese national and his female interpreter during a botched passport-renewal scam at the Chaengwattana government complex in Bangkok.
Police are seeking one other suspect, also a police officer.
The four suspects allegedly demanded a ransom of over 2 million baht in cryptocurrency in return for releasing the Chinese man.
They were arrested in the Chaengwattana and Don Muang areas and taken to Din Daeng Police Station for interrogation, said Deputy National Police Chief Surachate Hakparn. They were initially charged with extortion and misconduct on duty.
The arrests came in response to a complaint filed at Din Daeng police station on Monday by the Chinese national’s interpreter, a 38-year-old Thai woman identified only as Ms A.
The interpreter told police that a Chinese man, identified as Tilung, 62, asked her to meet him at his residence in Soi Pracha Songkhro 2, Din Daeng district on March 10 to help him renew his passport and visa at Chaengwattana.
She said a Chinese friend of Tilung’s drove them to the government complex, but the group returned to Tilung's home after Chaengwattana Immigration rejected his documents.
Ms A alleges that she and Tilung were then kidnapped by five suspects who turned up at the house in three cars. She said Tilung's driver-friend assisted the suspects.
The suspects then drove the pair around Chaengwattana for 4-5 hours before sending Tilung and Ms A back to Soi Pracha Songkhro 2 at night, she said.
Tilung’s Chinese friend had earlier advised him he could stay in Thailand by using a Thai citizen’s ID card at the government complex.
Ms A said Tilung admitted the suspects had asked for 60,000 in USDT cryptocurrency (just over 2 million baht) to process the immigration scam, but he had eventually negotiated a fee of 30,000 USDT.
Tilung reportedly asked his son to transfer cryptocurrency to the suspects via the imToken application.
Ms A said she had lost contact with Tilung after he fled to China.
She said she contacted the police because she feared for her own safety. She said powerful government officials may be involved in the case.
Police checked Tilung's history and found that he was using the Thai ID card of a Samut Prakan resident named Saroj Thongkhamai, 55, to perform transactions in Thailand.
They said they would investigate to find whether Saroj was still alive and how Tilung had obtained his ID card. - The Nation Thailand/ANN