The 29-year-old businessman from Myanmar and his 24-year-old companion were arrested carrying the ฿16.5 million in cash contained in two plastic bags. It followed the search of a Mazda pickup truck by Highway Police acting on a tip-off on Wednesday. A lawyer acting for an oil trader in Myanmar has emerged claiming that the arrest was illegal and an abuse of power while lodging a formal complaint with the National Anti Corruption Commission against the arresting police force.

A Thai Criminal Court has extended the period of detention but granted conditional bail to two Myanmar suspects arrested just inside the Thai border on Wednesday with ฿16.5 million in cash contained in two plastic bags. Lawyers for the couple and a Myanmar based businessman who claims the money was for an oil transaction, had requested their release and have threatened to lodge official complaints against Thailand’s Highway Police for the arrests which came after a tip-off.

The 29-year-old Myanmar man named as Daid Pai-u and a 24-year-old woman named as Nam Itu crossed the border at the Thai Friendship Bridge near Mae Sot on Wednesday and were arrested shortly afterwards by Highway Police following a tip-off. Officers found two plastic bags (inset) containing ฿16.5 million in ฿1,000 notes in the cab of the Mazda pickup truck.

Two Myanmar nationals who were arrested shortly after entering Thailand legally on Wednesday through the new Thai Myanmar Friendship Bridge in the western province of Mae Sot carrying ฿16.5 million in cash, have been granted bail by a Thai court.

The move allows Thailand’s Criminal Suppression Division Police to investigate the money and the actions of the two Myanmar nationals before the matter comes again before the Criminal Court before April 20th next.

Myanmar couple charged with smuggling cash into Thailand at Mae Sot represented in court

The pair have been charged with failing to declare the money to Thai customs and smuggling the cash into the kingdom after they crossed into Thailand near Mae Sot on Wednesday.

The case came before the Criminal Court on Thursday and Thai police asked for the continued detention of the pair named as 29-year-old businessman Daid Pai-u and a 24-year-old Burmese woman named as Nam Itu. They were represented by their lawyer, Ananchai Chaidej.

Court granted bail of ฿1 million each and ordered them to wear an ankle bracelet and not to leave Thailand

In court, investigating police officers objected to bail for the pair arguing that they were facing serious charges and that the temptation to escape would be great. 

Police wanted them held in custody until April 20th in order to finalise their initial investigation.

The court granted the pair bail based on a cash surety of ฿1 million each and on the condition that they wore an ankle bracelet. They also had to undertake not to leave the kingdom without permission.

Lawyer for Myanmar businessman claims arrest of the duo was illegal and files complaints

After the arrest of the couple on Wednesday, a lawyer who claims to represent a businessman in Myanmar, the rightful owner of the funds, lodged a flurry of petitions claiming that their detention in Thailand by the Highway Police just after their arrival into the kingdom was illegal and accusing arresting officers of malfeasance and abuse of authority.

Oil businessman in Myanmar claims money in the pickup truck was a deposit as part of an oil deal

The petitions were lodged by Nutthawat Wicheanbut, a lawyer who claims to represent a man in the oil business whose money they were carrying allegedly as part of an oil transaction.

Mr Nutthawat claimed that the Highway Police had no authority to arrest the pair and that they should, by right, have been handed over to police in Mae Sot for questioning over the affair. 

The lawyer said he had lodged a complaint with the National Anti Corruption Commission against the Highway Police for illegal detention and malfeasance.

Man and woman arrested by Highway Police Division 5 on Wednesday just 200 metres from the border

The man and woman were intercepted by officers of Highway Police Division 5 in Tak province on Wednesday after they entered the kingdom.

The media was briefed on the arrest by Police Colonel Man Menyam, the superintendent of the division.

He said the pair were stopped in tambon Tha Sai Lua near Wang Ta Kean. This is a village about 200 metres from the border with Myanmar.

He revealed that police had received a tip-off in relation to the vehicle, a Mazda truck registered in Myanmar which entered over the new Thai Myanmar Friendship Bridge opened at the end of October last year in Tak’s Mae Sot district.

Paperwork was in order but then police discovered the cash and were not satisfied with the man’s answers

After stopping the truck, officers discovered that the couple had all the necessary paperwork to enter Thailand at this time on a commercial and trade basis.

However, they then discovered 16,500 ฿1,000 notes in two plastic bags in the front of the cab at the foot of the female passenger.

Police enquired about the cash and were told by the pair that they intended to deposit it at a Kasikorn Bank branch in Mae Sot.

However, they could not provide officers with details of an account and had also failed to declare the money on entry into Thailand at the custom’s point.

This led to their arrest for smuggling the money into the kingdom.

Case handed to Crime Suppression Police, promise to follow the evidence and trace the money’s origin

Lawyers then emerged for both the man and the woman arrested and the Myanmar businessman who claims to own the money. 

Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau placed the case into the hands of the Crime Suppression Division Police.

On Thursday, the Head of the Crime Suppression Division Police, Police Major General Jirabhop Bhuridej, said that his officers would pursue an enquiry based firmly on evidence and that the Myanmar based businessman would have to show a clear chain of evidence as to his ownership and the origin of the cash as well as its intended purpose purported to be an oil transaction.

Anti Money laundering Office also brought in

Police Colonel Pathak Kwanna, a superintendent with the CSD Division 4, also revealed that the Anti Money Laundering Office (AMLO) was being involved in the case while officers pursue their investigation before the detention period of the arrested pair expires on April 20th.

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