Flying Sporran’s Weekend Diary

(‘Round up the usual suspects’)

They seem invincible. The foreign operators of boiler rooms (those illegal share trading rooms which con pensioners out of millions) have now taken over vast swathes of the night life industry in Bangkok and have always seemed like they cannot be touched.

They are known to the FBI, Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Australian Federal Police, Security Exchange Commission and very well known to the Crime Suppression Division and senior officers in Thonglor and Lumpini and of course the Immigration Police.

Foreign police forces keep raising the subject and occasionally there is a raid in some house along the Sukhumvit Road; but the young kids, and some not so young Bangkok roués, who are caught in the net, are fined and deported while the bosses stay put.

Invariably some kid rings me up in a fury. I had one recently who was arrested on his first day of work at a boiler room and later deported. He is in Malaysia desperately trying to see his Thai girlfriend, but he is blacklisted.  “I had no idea it was a boiler room. I want the boss arrested,” he said.

“By me?”

Little chance of that I am afraid, although his boss has been arrested in the United States, he is unlikely to be arrested in Thailand by the people who do that sort of thing.

There used to be a time when the BR guys looked after their arrested kids. They paid them off handsomely and many were back on the next plane. The mood has changed. Now the new recruits are under more pressure than ever to find punters quickly for the BR loaders. And that condo they were promised might turn out to be a shared room.

I, of course, know the identities of the major boiler room players in Bangkok. I know hundreds of victims. I can do little more than pass that information on to the relevant people. I have neither the resources nor armour to do much else. If Britain’s SOCA or City Fraud Squad can do nothing it’s too big a fish to fry for me I am afraid.

Steve Burt fled a Bangkok boiler room to
grass and was set up with drugs
and rape charges in Manila

The boiler room guys know me.

(Some of them even turned up to join the Optimists in Pattaya started by the well known Mr. Drew Noyes – the local branch of a do-good for kids type organisation – which was ended by the Optimists’ HQ in the United States.)

They know I play with a straight bat. I have declined ‘assistance’, the first step on the road to hell. If I write what I want to I could end up on drugs and even rape charges.

One even rang me recently to complain of about the traffic in Sukhumvit Soi 11 – where a lot of boiler room money has gone.

‘Can’t you get someone in the Bangkok Post or Nation to write about it,” he asked. “We have a a high class clientele who cannot get to our premises because of all the  *** food stalls!”

Irony is lost on these guys.

And its a bit difficult writing a story without naming the premises.

What these people have done to their enemies has been unpleasant.  Moreover, although the documentary evidence is there, the major players cover their tracks exceedingly well, though I guess hundreds of foreigners in Bangkok must know the names of at least three of them.

One of the bosses tells me he does not even have a bank account!

These boiler rooms have worked successfully under Thai Rak Thai, Democrat, and Phuea Thai coalition governments.

Current officials seem to love money more than ever – and one boiler room operator is married to a close relative of a former city Governor.

A very senior police general is also involved – that may be why international requests are treated with a smile and a wai – and the usual Claude Rains ‘Round up the usual suspects!’ action.

Two major international security companies seem to have every cough and spit on the major players in Bangkok – but it would be self defeating to have them arrested without securing the cash for their clients, which has been spread into projects worldwide.

To have them enter Thailand’s judicial system might just spark a bidding war – with only officials gaining.

Interestingly enough the inevitable seems to have happened.  These guys have now earned too much money.

Sources are telling me, and these sources have been very good in the past, that they are pissing off Bangkok’s underworld figures who are seeing the Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

Unusually rich businessman
kidnapped in last ‘boiler room’ war.

The large swathes of businesses in Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket, and Singapore, and Hong Kong –  are places of entertainment where foreigners go, whether to have a bangers and mash, buy a prostitute,  or bop the night away.

It appears Thai underworld figures want a slice of the cake.

Just how that will end up it is difficult to see.  The four main boiler room guys, three Americans and a Brit are friends, well friends that piss each other off quite often.  Will there be a sacrificial lamb?

Hard to say. Perhaps their police friends could protect them.

If it gets nasty we could see kidnappings, ransom demands, and dare I say it, murder.

It won’t be the first time. An unusually rich American businessman who said he was in ‘oil’ (but his well was dry) was kidnapped during the last boiler room wars in Bangkok. His kidnappers were rogue police. They were arrested – but the ransom demand which had been paid was not recovered.

What has been happening recently however is the relocation of a lot of boiler room minions to Chiang Mai and Jakarta. And Kuala Lumpur has a thriving boiler room crowd.

Here are some odd links. I cannot confirm or deny or even offer what they are. There are some interesting dj’s here.  Here’s an educational resource.