GODFATHERS, BRITS AND MURDER IN THAILAND’S ‘COSTA DEL CRIME’

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With the alleged assassins of Briton Tony Kenway in Thailand named and on the run Thai police remain cautious about naming the source of the victim’s wealth although, according to the Khao Sod newspaper in Bangkok, they privately admitted he was a ‘boiler room’ scammer.




It is now almost certain that 39-year-old Kenway was a modern day ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ stripping people of their retirement savings in web scams for his hedonistic lifestyle of fast cars and many properties in Thailand, although some reports also say he ran an illegal gambling website.

And the finger now seems to be pointing to associates in his business, in which business of course people have killed and been killed before. 

This can happen if for instance an ‘employee’ decides to go it alone taking his ‘lists’ with him or breakaway to set up another ‘room’.

The Thai Police reluctance to go into any detail in to Kenway’s business may be because Kenway was arrested and charged with certain offences (details not yet released) then bailed from custody by a Thai policeman of the rank of Lt. Colonel thus indicating the involvement of two set of police in Kenway’s business. Kenway was due in court again late next month.

There appear to be some angry people who did not want Kenway to get bail. But boiler room bosses never get arrested while their minions do. Had Kenway risen to the top of the food chain?

The most puzzling aspect of the actual murder is that the alleged assassins, Briton Miles Dicken Turner and South African Abel Caldeira Bonito, seem to have taken the trouble to have flown into Thailand having previously arranged their getaway, but then gave their details when they hired the motorbike.

Bonito and Turner

The murder was set against an interesting background of powerful Thai monied families who have run the eastern seaboard as their personal fiefdoms.

A long-term Mayor of Pong is Pranoem Siri-roob. His grandson Sanit is a friend of Kenway and runs the Sanit Sports Centre, yesterday offering condolences to Kenway’s family.

Pranoem has been a life-long friend of the most famous Godfather on Thailand’s eastern seaboard – the legendary Kamnan Poh – real name Somchai Khunpleum.

Kamnan Poh with Niels Colov, former Danish gangster at one
of his birthday parties

Somchai was convicted of the premeditated murder of another businessman and politician in 2004 and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He was bailed (though never in custody) on terms of ten million baht and lost his appeal – and still did not go to jail. 

He was also convicted of corruption in 2005 and sentenced to five years and four months and again never went to jail.  In fact, he did not even bother to attend his trials – and local police were scared to arrest him.

For years he continued to hold massive birthday parties at his home in Chonburi inviting senior police and even government politicians and some foreign wheeler-dealers.

Somchai was arrested on 30 January 2013 on his way to a hospital in Bangkok’s Pattanakarn area due, some believe, to behind scenes work by Thaksin Shinawatra. At the time, Thaksin’s sister Yingluck was in power.  

The exiled populist Prime Minister Thaksin is a perceived enemy of the traditional moneyed families of Thailand and even the Palace.

However, Somchai’s son Sontaaya Khunpluem was Minister of Science and Technology in Thaksin’s government and his wife Sukomol was later Minister of Culture.

Somchai however was not taken to jail – but hospital.

It is known that Thailand’s present King, while still Crown Prince, visited the Siri-roob family home in Pong outside Pattaya last February. Up for discussion at that meeting was Kamnan Poh.

After being crowned King, HRH Vajiralongkorn issued a pardon to Kamnan Poh.

Kenway may well believe he was untouchable after being granted an audience with the Crown Prince at the time and Princess Srirasmi, whom the Prince ditched in 2014 while also clearing out Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division and National Bureau of ‘corrupt officials’ – (Some 80 per cent went)

Kenway not only placed a picture on his Facebook page of his audience with the now King, but also of Leo di Caprio, who played boiler room fraudster Jordan Belfort in the Hollywood movie ‘Wolf of Wall Street’.  Belfort was a boiler room fraudster who took people for over US$100m.

The picture has the caption: “Cheers to all my haters. Be careful so much more is coming.”

The 39-year-old arrived in Thailand some seven years ago from Marbella – on Spain’s Costa del Sol dubbed in the UK as the ‘Costa del Sol as it became the refuge of many British crime bosses,

It was also one of the original boiler room communities but many moved on because of the involvement of Europol in tracking them down and subsequent high profile arrests.

In Malaga Kenway was listed as a director of a company calling its Elite Agencies Ltd with an address at Calle Juan Dominguez Morreno, 60 Bajo, Malaga. He was the sole director and the company is now dissolved.


Boiler room operators, who create fake websites for financial companies, and offer shares ‘at an absolute steal’ now own large swathes of Thailand’s sex industry, controlling the lease of the ‘Nana Entertainment Plaza’ in Bangkok which they promote as the largest ‘sex entertainment area’ in the world.

Bars and nightclubs provide an easy way to launder money and Thailand’s notoriously corrupt officials will turn a blind eye and even assist if the price is right.

Of course, its not only boiler room scammers who have moved from Spain to Thailand, among the exodus have also been property scammers and drugs traffickers – and some people I guess who just prefer the Thai life-style.

Seems his wife and relatives know little of Kenway’s business.

Kenway’s Thai wife Somporn said on Tuesday that he had no history of conflict with anyone, though she mentioned he had a “business dispute” with a former company partner. And police in Pattaya also said they had not found any clues.

His sister, Kirsty Kenway, of Southampton was quoted as saying: “I don’t really know what happened to my brother. He had a brilliant life out there and he did a lot for charity and helped build some schools. He had even met the future king of Thailand. He was very clever and did very well.”

Thai police have stated that the two alleged assassins have crossed the border into Cambodia through the Koh Kong border point and that they are co-operating with Cambodian police. 

This has been confirmed by immigration police in Koh Kong.

However reports in Phnom Penh today say there has not yet been any inter-police dialogue.

According to tomorrow Friday’s Khmer Times:

Kim Rattana, the deputy director of Koh Kong province’s Cham Yeam international immigration checkpoint, said he was aware of the case but had not received orders to take action or search for the two suspects. 

Som Vann Virak, director of the Interior Ministry’s internal security department, said he had not heard of the case and added that Thailand had yet to request cooperation. 

Chhay Rithy, the deputy National Police commissioner in charge of internal security, said Cambodian authorities could not do anything until the Thai side requested cooperation.

Tony Kenway will not be the first web scammer to be murdered in Thailand.  

New Zealander Ian Travis was gunned down in an identical fashion in a BMW in Bangkok in March 2002.  He was a room manager for boiler room trading under the name Foreign Currency International – FCI.

His boss James Muller was extradited back to Thailand by the US District Court in Atlanta. But Muller was never tried for the murder and released after three months when he then opened a martial arts club in Sukhumvit Soi 31, Bangkok.  

Reconstruction of the murder of James Ian Travis. Muller and his wife inset (Thai Rath)

Both the gunman and motorcycle rider were also arrested and later released despite a well-publicised re-enactment of the murder. 

And Chalit Sanitchon, the Thai man who allegedly liaised between Muller and the hit men was also released and charges of conspiracy to murder dropped.

Picture right: The author confronting Chalit Sanitchon, head of security for FCI after Brits fled the boiler room in Asoke, Bangkok, and told of the scam.

links:

http://www.andrew-drummond.com/2014/01/talking-culture-at-not-very-secret.html

http://www.andrew-drummond.com/2015/03/organised-crime-and-why-i-left-thailand.html

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