American’s family in Richmond Texas are calling on US politicians including President Trump to help. Derrick Keller moved to China with his wife Tanya in 2015 when she took a job opportunity there. He sold his own business in Texas and was working odd jobs in Shenzhen when he was approached by a Singapore based man with what he viewed as an acting assignment. He appeared in several corporate videos as an executive director of a company what turned out to be a giant fraud.
An American navy veteran and citizen is currently on trial in Thailand in connection with a massive fraud involving a fake company called the Eagle Gates Group. He was arrested after flying into Phuket this time last year for a family holiday and has already spent one year in Klong Prem prison.
An American Navy veteran from Richmond Texas is currently on trial in Thailand on serious fraud charges connected with the Eagle Gates Group investment scheme which left hundreds of Thai investors out of pocket in 2016 and 2017 before the Thai police division, the Department of Social Investigations began to look into the company shortly after the alarm was raised by some investors.
American arrested last August when he arrived in Thailand for a family holiday
Derrick Keller was arrested by Thai police including immigration police officers after he landed in Thailand on August 20th 2018. He had come to Thailand with his wife Tanya on a holiday from China. The US couple had been living there since 2015. He was detained on an arrest warrant issued by a Thai court as a result of the ongoing investigation by a range of Thai authorities being led by the DSI.
Warrant for his arrest in connection with a fraudulent company called the Eagle Gates Group
The American was questioned after his arrest by officers in Phuket investigating the investment scheme being operated by the Eagle Gates Group Co Ltd which was represented as an American investment firm with impeccable credentials. It appears to have been very active in Thailand even though it had listed offices worldwide and has been linked to operators working out of Singapore.
Derrick Killer featured in the corporate videos as an actor and ‘western face’ of the firm in Asia
It is reported that 44-year-old Mr Keller was featured prominently in videos advertising the company as a prestigious and respected financial institution. He claims that he was paid to act in the videos which became one of his pursuits after he moved from Texas to China when his wife took up her new job there.
Keller also reportedly agreed to act as an executive director of the financial company
Mr Keller had been living and working in Shenzhen province in China doing odd jobs including bartending and coaching a basketball team. He was approached, he says, by a Singapore based man who said he wanted the American to front the company as a westerner in Asia.
This led to him featuring in several corporate videos where he was portrayed as an executive director. One shot of him in one video shows him exiting an Eagle Gates Group helicopter. Derrick Keller says that he was paid $15,000 to act in the videos. Significantly, it is also reported that Mr Keller agreed to become an executive director of Eagle Gates Group.
Recorded the corporate videos and heard nothing from the company for two years
According to the American and his family back in Richmond, Texas, after he made the videos and was paid for his services in 2016, he heard nothing more from the company. That is until August 20th 2018 when he landed into a maelstrom of trouble and catastrophe on arrival at a Thai airport where a large contingent of officials and police were waiting to arrest and later question him.
Hundreds of Thai investors defrauded with at least ฿232 million lost and it could be higher
It emerged that hundreds of small Thai investors had complained to the police about the company after suspicions were raised about its legitimacy towards the end of 2016. Reports in Thailand suggest that as much as ฿232 million was misappropriated by the Eagle Gates Group with nearly ฿1 billion taken out of the company’s bank accounts.
Lowered tiered partners and monthly returns, a Ponzi scheme that lured ฿1 billion out of bank accounts
Investors in the group were sold on the scheme to become lower-tiered partners not only in the investments but also the management of the company. The returns promised were between 3% to 20% per month depending on the amounts of money invested. It was a glorified Ponzi scheme.
Investors in Thailand and throughout Asia were victims of the fake company
It is reported that many individuals in Thailand, China and neighbouring Malaysia invested millions of dollars in the company. The extent of the slick confidence trick could be seen with online investors in Thailand defending the Eagle Gates Group and proudly declaring themselves as associates of the organisation even as it crashed under the weight of suspicion as the truth emerged at the end of 2016.
Keller was the only foreigner arrested with warrants for 32 people, 9 foreigners and 23 Thai people
The investigation by Thailand’s DSI had been underway for some time by the time Mr Keller landed in Thailand. He was among a list of 32 people liable to be arrested after warrants were issued based on police findings. This included 9 foreigners and 23 Thai nationals. It is understood that by August 2018, Keller was the only foreigner apprehended in addition to 12 Thai people.
Keller explained to DSI officials his role after his arrest in August 2018 but has still been prosecuted
At the time of his arrest, the DSI promised to investigate the matter further following Mr Keller’s claims to have been duped by an executive representing the Eagle Gates Group in Singapore. Mr Keller’s family show photographs of a very fair-haired western-looking man meeting Mr Keller in Shenzhen, China and attending a gym with him.
Red flags raised about Eagle Gates Group in late 2016
Any cursory investigation into the Eagle Gates Group even back in 2016 would have raised alarm bells. Online commentators from Thailand were already talking about difficulties in getting money out of the group and questions were being asked about its facade of virtual offices with one phone number being answered in Hong Kong that had no knowledge of the company.
Man behind the egregious scam is Eddy Mc Clough
The man purportedly behind the fraud was a Mr Eddy Mc Clough who was portrayed as a titan of Wall Street having worked with such firms as KPMG, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. It was all a scam and an egregious scam at that.
Fake CNN interview where false Asian reporter fawn over Eagle Gates Group supremo
Perhaps one of the most striking features of the fraud was a fake CNN interview where a bald-headed man in his forties purporting to by Eddy Mc Clough is interviewed by a dour-faced Asian CNN reporter. Any in-depth look at the video which is nearly seven minutes long would raise eyebrows.
Telltale signs were there if anyone looked
For a start the sound quality and lighting are wrong. The interviewer is stilted in her questions and below-par, lacking the flair required on a recognised international broadcaster such as CNN. She fawns over her subject, Mr Mc Clough, welcoming him back as a financial expert. Similarly for the interviewee who is at times clearly reading from a script in front of him. The video was a parody designed to impress upon gullible Asian investors the expertise of the Eagle Gates Group founder who heralded a coming world economic crisis. It is a fake video, fake news at its worst, most despicable form attempting to deceive investors.
American electric gate company domain used to create a 10-year history for bogus outfit
Further research into the Eagle Gate Group which advertised itself as a company in operation for over 10 years showed the real truth. The charade began in March 2016 when a website domain called the Eagle Gates Group was taken over by the fraudsters and transformed into the website of an investment company of long-standing. Prior to this, the Eagle Gates Group website had been owned by an American firm selling electric gates. Similarly, at the same time, a Wyoming based company established in 2019 Poseidon Communications Corp changed its name to the Eagle Gates Group.
Locus of internet site activity is in Thailand
There is no information on the location of the purported principal of Eagle Gates Group, Eddy Mc Clough. He is listed as living in New York. However, there is evidence from internet traffic analysis that the locus of the site associated with the group is in Thailand.
Derrick Keller signed up to front this company in 2016
This is what Navy veteran and family man Derrick Keller signed up to when he agreed to act in videos and take on the role as the ‘western face’ of a fraudulent company in Asia. He is now paying the price. The work as an actor in the corporate video is one thing, however, agreeing to act as an executive director for the firm may well turn out to be another.
US man’s family felt the matter would sort itself out
The American man’s family in Richmond, Texas and his wife Tanya in China had been stupefied by his arrest after arriving in Thailand last year. They latterly came to believe it was perhaps only a matter of time before some sense prevailed and Mr Keller’s role was clarified leading to his release. That has not happened.
Thailand’s legal system is different
Firstly, Thailand’s legal system is very different to western jurisprudence and secondly, the extent of the losses and the number of people involved means that Thai prosecutors must pursue the case and enforce the full rigour of the law to deter further frauds which increasingly target Thailand’s growing middle class.
Trial already underway with 3 days evidence presented by the prosecution in the case
Mr Keller went on trial in July and the prosecution case has already presented evidence for four days. His wife Tanya was reported not to have been able to attend the trial as she says she had been warned off travelling to Thailand. It is reported that the prosecution will soon present three further days of evidence to be followed by a rebuttal from the defence who will then present the US man’s story and evidence to the court for full consideration.
American’s wife flies back to Houston to tell her husband’s story as US media takes up the story
His wife Tanya flew back to Houston, Texas in the United States in recent days where local media outlets such as KHOU TV, a CBS affiliate in Texas have been taking up the story. They paint a credible picture of the American veteran as an honest man, a patriot, a good father and son who sold his trucking business in East Bernard Texas to accompany his wife to China when she was offered the dancing position of her dreams there.
Family – US man has been advised to plead guilty
The family are particularly concerned that it has been suggested to Mr Keller to plead guilty to the charges against him and throw himself at the mercy of the Thai court. His father Dana said this: ‘We’ve been told that if he admits guilt, they will be easier on him and that it’s not worth fighting against. Derrick is a man of integrity, I do not see him admitting to a crime he didn’t commit so that has me worried.’
It is reported that the family have spent up to $60,000 in getting a defence for him in Thailand to the charges so far.
Derrick Keller is being held at Klong Prem prison in Bangkok sleeping on a concrete floor
Meanwhile, Dana Keller, Derrick’s father, said he had not heard from his boy since the day after he was arrested in Thailand. Mr Keller is being held in Klong Prem maximum security prison since then where he is sleeping on a concrete floor and sharing a cell with 50 other inmates. Missionaries who are visiting him regularly say that he has lost 70 lbs in weight and is very disheartened about his fate.
Family seek help from US President Donald Trump
The family in the United States have called on US politicians such as President Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz and Senator John Cornyn of Texas to intercede for the American veteran. They are equally disheartened with the response to date. His father is also a US military veteran having fought in Vietnam: ‘The country called, he answered,’ he said this week on KHOU Houston. ‘When the country called, I answered. And now we call and we don’t get an answer.’
Let the Thai justice system take its course
Perhaps the US politicians and powers that be understand that for now, the best way to help Mr Keller may be to respect the Thai justice system and let it take its course. His family sees him as another victim of the fraud but he did play a role in it however unwittingly and perhaps has already paid a heavy price.
US citizen faces up to 35 years if convicted
If convicted, the US man faces up to 35 years in jail given the extent of the fraud but the court may take into account his limited and misguided role if any. Mr Keller also has the option of appealing the judgment to an Appeals Court and later to the Thai Supreme Court.
+ American family in Texas raise concerns on Houston's KKOU TV about Navy veteran Derrick Keller. In 2018, he was arrested in Phuket when he arrived with his wife for a holiday in Thailand. In 2016, he was paid as an actor in a series of corporate videos for the the Eagle Gates Group which turned out to be a giant fraud in which hundreds of Thai investors lost over ฿232 million and put him on a Thai police list for arrest.https://www.thaiexaminer.com/thai-news-foreigners/2019/08/17/american-fraud-trial-thailand-derrick-keller-eagle-gates-group-company-family-us/James Morris reports from Bangkok, Thailand
Posted by ThaiExaminer.com on Monday, August 19, 2019