A BRIT businessman, Tony Kenway, executed in broad daylight in Thailand was the kingpin of a sprawling ‘Wolf of Wall Street’-style call centre scam that tricked Brits and Australians out of millions of pounds, police said.
Kenway ran a vast ‘boiler room’ gang operation which they say tricked thousands of victims out of their life savings to fund his flash lifestyle in Pattaya.
Police are hunting two suspects – British born Miles Dicken Turner and South African Abel Bonito Caldeira – in connection with the gangland-style execution.
Court papers show Kenway was wanted over working illegally and Thai authorities had made attempts to deport him. But friends paid his bail and he was due up in court again next month.
Dad-of-four Kenway was shot in the head seconds after getting into his car at Pattaya’s Sanit Sport Club by a gunman who fled the scene on the back of a waiting moped with another man.
Police believe Kenway had a bust-up with an ex-employee and the dispute spiralled out of control after he started working for a rival firm.
A senior police officer involved with the investigation said: ”Tony Kenway had a call centre that employed foreign staff and made calls to Australia and Britain. He had two different companies that were involved in the scam.
“The aim was to get people abroad to give their life savings. It was not small amounts.
“He was strong and pushed them for big investments. He promised them a big win. Like winning the lottery.
“The people who paid the money lost out. It was big amounts, millions and millions of Thai baht that many different people paid to him.”
Officers investigating his murder are probing two other rival call centre operations which offered investments to naive foreigners desperate to cash in on the country’s booming tourist industry.
”We are looking at group A, B and C. Two other rival companies and business associates he had problems with,” the senior officer said.
“There are three companies at the centre of the investigation. It is a very complex investigation.”
He said Kenway’s staff offered stakes in different web ventures – including gambling sites – which would eventually collapse or be sold with a far lower return to the investors.
They added: ”He was due to appear in court next month. He was wanted for working illegally. He had many enemies. He had done a lot of bad things.”
Kenway posted a picture of Wolf of Wall Street character Jordan Belfort – played by Leonardo DiCaprio – on his Facebook page on New Year’s Eve – in an apparent reference to the same hard-selling tactics used in the hit movie. Police believe married Kenway, from Southampton, had racked up millions since arriving in Thailand from the Costa Del Sol, another crime hot spot for boiler room gangs.
They said he owned at least five properties and a number of sports car as well as several different business ventures. His wife Somporn – nicknamed Pans – is believed to have been oblivious to her husband’s activities. The couple had two children together, including a four-month-old baby.
Court documents – dated September 27 2016 – say Kenway was caught working illegally and the government had tried to deport him but he had been bailed by a friend.
He had been ordered to stop working in Thailand and was due back in court next month to answer more charges of hiring foreigners and working illegally.
Turner, 27, originally from Oxford, and Caldeira, 24, are believed to have fled the country to Cambodia after Kenway was murdered.
Police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting, but a source claimed Mr Kenway had “made several enemies”.
A source on the team investigating the murder told the Bangkok Post that Mr Kenway had been involved in an illegal call centre that had preyed on foreign nationals in European countries.
The businessman had reportedly asked police to arrest a former business partner who owed him £200,000.
The source claimed the former partner had moved to Cambodia to set up a similar operation, but it failed.
Last night, officials released an image allegedly showing the suspects on a motorbike, with one appearing to hold a gun.
A police source in Pattaya said investigators were looking into a football gambling website set up by Mr Kenway – who owned five homes – which may have caused a rift with rival firms.
They said web designer Mr Kenway had twice met with the rival group but there had still been a conflict.
The police source added: ”This is one motive we are looking at but there are others.
“The disagreement was not with Thais, it was with foreigners. He had made several enemies. He was quite wealthy.”
A police source, who released the passport photos, said both suspects arrived in Thailand together on Wednesday afternoon after crossing in from Cambodia at the southern Cham Yeam border checkpoint.
They added: “They’ve both left Thailand but we’re working with police in Cambodia to find them. They are the main suspects.”
Police trace the motorbike used to flee the scene back to a local bike rental company who had copies of the suspects’ passports on file.
They searched the accommodation where they had been staying but the men had already left.
Thairath quoted Pol Gen Suchart as saying a 48-year-old van driver was allegedly hired by the two suspects in the Thai border town of Hat Lek in Trat province last Thursday to drive them to Bang Lamung.
The suspects did not ask the driver to take them anywhere in particular and told him to wait at a hotel, reports the Bangkok Post.
The duo asked the driver to take them back to Hat Lek on Tuesday at about 10.30am, about 10 minutes after Nong Prua police had been alerted to Mr Kenway’s murder.
The driver said Caldeira and Turner paid him 3,000 baht a day – around £67 – plus a 5,000-baht tip when they arrived at Hat Lek.
He said the men did not act suspiciously, but reportedly confirmed their identities to police when showed their pictures.
Peter Cole, manager of the Sanit Sport Club where Mr Kenway was killed, told Sun Online the two suspects were not members of the gym.
The Foreign Office confirmed a British person died in Pattaya and said it was providing consular support to his family.
A spokesperson said: “We are in contact with the family of a British man following his death in Pattaya, Thailand.
Credit: The Sun