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Owner of Gold shop accused of laundering drug money

Authorities on Thursday arrested a local gold shop owner on allegations he was laundering money for border drug smugglers, and impounded assets worth about 30 million.

Police and soldiers raided the Phet Thong Sap Thawee Lae Nalika Thong Thae Yaowarat gold shop on U-Thong Road in Muang district.

There they arrested gold shop owner Tanetpol Manaspiyalert, 32. He was one of many suspects sought at various locations raided simultaneously in the province.

Pol Lt Gen Montree Yimyaem, commissioner of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, said at the gold shop that the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) suspected Mr Tanetpol of  money laundering.

He alleged the gold shop had handled about 30 million baht from drug smugglers active in the western border area.

The money was converted into gold bars that were then sent to a neighbouring country, which he did not name.

On Wednesday evening police arrested Withoon Permpoonpinyo, 64, in Sangkhlaburi district, Kanchanaburi, for alleged involvement in the money-laundering.

Pol Lt Gen Montree said Mr Withoon had transferred money Mr Tanetpol’s gold shop. 

During Thursday’s series of raids, police impounded assets worth about 30 million baht for further examination.

They included a house worth 7 million baht, gold adornments worth 13 million baht and 5 million baht in cash.

They had a court warrant for Mr Tanetpol’s arrest. He denied any involvement in money laundering.

Mr Tanetpol said Mr Withoon was just a normal customer who had bought 200-300 baht-weight of gold bullion a month over the past few months.

The customer had transferred money to the shop for each purchase, and then showed up there to collect the ordered gold bars, he said.

The shop had always informed Amlo of any unusually huge order for gold, Mr Tanetpol said.

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Police read out the arrest warrant to Tanetpol Manaspiyalert, 32, at his gold shop in Muang district, Kanchanaburi, on Thursday morning. (Photo: Piyarat Chongcharoen)

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