Police from Bangkok’s Phaya Thai station obtained a Criminal Court order on Thursday (Oct 6) to detain Thongchai Rojrungrangsi, 60, and his daughter Saithip, 35, for the first 12-day detention period.
Also remanded in custody at the same time was Winit Chantharamanee, a 69-year-old director of Fuan Travel Co, which was a business partner within the tourism umbrella.
Mr Thongchai and Mr Winit were taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison and Ms Saithip to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution.
The Criminal Court rejected Mr Thongchai’s offer of B10 million security for release on bail, his daughter’s offer of B15 million, and Mr Winit’s of B300,000, saying their alleged crime affected the economy and national security.
Possible penalties were harsh and there was a risk they could tamper with the evidence or witnesses, or flee, the court said.
On Thursday police told the court that Mr Thongchai and his daughter were influential people.
According to police, from March 24 to Aug 31 this year, Fuan Travel brought tourists from China without charge. Then OA Transport Co of the Rojrungrangsi family deployed its tour buses free of charge to serve the clients.
OA Transport took tourists to its associated shops, which included the Baan Kanom Thongthip dessert shop owned by Ms Saithip.
These shops’ goods were priced far above market retail rates and their labels breached labelling rules. Consequently tourists were overcharged. Market mechanisms and free competition were affected, and the country’s tourism image damaged, police said.
Mr Thongchai is the managing director of OA Transport and other affiliated companies. Investigators found that OA Transport paid a 30-40% sales commission to tour companies and 3-5% to tour guides.
They were charged with violating tourism-related laws and laundering money. Mr Thongchai’s wife Nisa, 61, and son Wasurat, 26, who are also executives of their family’s companies, have been in custody since Sept 13.
In September authorities impounded more than 2,000 buses owned by OA Transport and froze bank accounts containing B4.7 billion held by what police called the country’s biggest zero-dollar tour network, comprising OA Transport and 300 associated firms.
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