The Chinese man received extraordinary support from a staff member at the hotel in Bangkok where he stayed with his partner. This initiative and the goodwill of Bangkok radio station JS100 as well the tenacity of the Thai police helped to retrieve the cash. It is a story that tells us much about Thailand and its great people with the exception of one bad egg, a taxi driver whose lust for cash made him a thief when confronted by temptation. It gives an insight into the demand for property in Thailand and inward flow of funds into the country raising the value of the Thai baht.
Talk of the inward flow of money into Thailand from countries around the world but particularly China, became very topical this week when the baht reached 6 year peak against the US dollar. A story of a Chinese man visiting Bangkok with his partner illustrates the extent of the phenomenon caused by a range of actors from large financial funds to individuals and professionals. In this story, it was a Chinese man with a bag of cash containing ฿2.8 million destined to buy a condominium unit in Pattaya. However, the story becomes even stranger as we recount what happened when the Chinese men left the bag in the front seat of an orange taxi which had refused a fare when the Chinese men and his partner hailed it across the road for the Twin Peaks Residence in Bangkok 13 days ago.
In recent times, there are reports of huge inward investment into Thailand including investment in the Thai baht, stock exchange and of course property in Bangkok and other urban centres. Much of this is capital taking flight from China into Thailand which is increasingly seen as a safe haven. The dollar is often an intermediate currency. This month, one of those investors was a Chinese man who came to Bangkok with ฿2.8 million to invest in a condominium unit. The ฿2.8 million was in cash and the Chinese man brought it in a plastic bag.
Plastic bag containing ฿2.8 million left in orange Bangkok taxi after fare was refused
The Chinese man’s plan, however, went awry when he left the plastic bag in the front of a Bangkok taxi on the 11th of June last. The plastic bag containing the cash was within a purse which contained $90,000. The Chinese man had been staying at the Twin Tower Residence in Bangkok. An employee there made contact with JS100 Radio in Bangkok, a broadcasting company and radio station in Bangkok with millions of listeners and followers on social media.
Thai hotel staff work to help the Chinese man
The hotel employee explained to the Bangkok public what had happened to the Chinese man. He had ordered a taxi but the taxi driver had refused the fare. The Chinese man quickly exited the taxi but left his bag behind. CCTV footage from the hotel showed an orange taxi but the distance was too great as the Chinese man had picked it up on the other side of the road. It was not possible to retrieve the licence number.
Bangkok radio station and social network group intervene to help find the taxi identification number
However, the radio station was able to make contact with a business near where the taxi was picked up. CCTV footage from that business showed clearly the taxi’s identification number. Enquiries were made at the Department of Land and Transport and it was discovered that the taxi was owned by a company that rented out to drivers on a fee basis for a day. This is now very common in Bangkok and facilitates taxi drivers who cannot afford their own vehicle.
Taxi driver found, he recalls the Chinese man and his partner but he tells the radio crew that he saw no plastic bag and picked up another fare
Finally, the driver of the taxi was identified. His name was Mr. Weerapong. The taxi driver recalled picking up the two Chinese visitors on the day in question but explained that he had to refuse the fare as he was required to drop the taxi back on a strict deadline. The distance required was too great. He then recalled that he went on to pick three Thai women on Pinklao looking for a shorter fare. He recalled that two of the women sat in the back and one in the front of his taxi. He said he couldn’t recall if they were carrying anything when they exited the taxi. This report, including all the details, was forwarded to the Thai police at Pathumwan station by the JS100 radio station crew.
Taxi driver lied, Thai police confirmed that he took the money belonging to he Chinese man
Days later, the Thai police came back with the answer. It was the taxi driver who took the money. He had lied and was a thief. They identified Mr. Weerpaong as he exited the taxi some time later and entered his home on other CCTV footage. This was before his day’s work finished. He was clearly carrying the Chinese man’s plastic bag with the cash. He emerged from his home 49 minutes later and then returned the taxi to the depot. In returning the taxi, the taxi man made no mention of the bag he had found and his new found good fortune at another’s expense.
Taxi driver’s home raided, it had been abandoned
Thai police raided the home of Mr Weerapong only to find him gone. The home had been evacuated as the taxi man must have been alerted to the fact the Chinese owner of the cash was on his trail with the assistance of the Royal Thai Police after the radio station had made contact with him.
Tenacious Thai police find the Chinese man’s cash in Ratchaburi province with good police work
Thai police, always tenacious, finally caught up with the taxi man at a convenience store. He told the police that he had moved back to Ratchaburi province, about 80 km west of Bangkok. He said that he had given the cash to his brother. When police questioned that man’s brother, he quickly admitted that he still had the cash. He handed over the bag and the purse of US dollars to the Thai police.
It transpired that the drama, panic and tension of the situation had been too much for the Chinese man. He became ill and was admitted to hospital.
Chinese men explains that the money was owned by a syndicate of 6 Chinese who sought to buy a condo in Pattaya to establish a business
Finally last Tuesday, the money was given back to the Chinese man. It emerged that the $90,000 had been put up by 6 Chinese national who wanted to establish a business in Thailand. The Chinese man was to purchase a condo in Pattaya and then bring back the title documents. The Chinese man indicated that it was a syndicate of 6 Chinese nationals who intended to establish a beauty business. The loss of the cash would have been difficult to explain to his compatriots in China, he may have ended up under investigation himself or even worse.
Approximately ฿35,000 but Chinese man did not wish to press charges againts taxi driver
When the money was counted, it emerged that Mr Weerapon had spent $1,100 or ฿35,000. The balance was handed over to the Chinese amounted to ฿2.76 million. However, the Chinese man did not want to pursue charges against the Thai taxi driver.
He extended his sincere thanks to the Thai police at Pathumwan station and the good hearted Thai people who had gone out of their way to help him retrieve the cash.