Friday, February 21, 2020
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THE GOVERNMENT will step up surveillance of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by requiring digital currency exchangers to report their transactions to the country’s anti-money laundering agency.

Pol Maj-General Romsit Viriyasan, the acting chief of the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation (AMLO), said the agency would amend its law to impose the requirement in order to suppress money-laundering activities using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as media of exchange.

Investing in digital currencies carries a high risk because Thai law does not recognise them as legal tender, so the public should exercise caution to avoid misleading and cheating tactics, he said.

Local and international criminal networks relied on digital currencies to hide ill-gotten gains, he added.

Moreover, the methods used to lure unsuspecting investors had become diverse and sophisticated, including the buying and selling of goods with the digital coins to conceal ill-gotten wealth, Romsit said.

In response, the AMLO needed to be empowered to investigate and pursue digital money trails, he added. Bitcoin and another cryptocurrency, ripple, are currently the two most popular units used by criminals to launder money in Thailand.

‘Ponzi schemes’

Even though digital currencies are not legal tender, they have market value and can be traded internationally on digital platforms in Thailand and overseas.

Romsit said the current AMLO law empowered the agency to investigate cases in which ill-gotten money, such as the proceeds of cheating and investment scams, was converted into other assets, while the planned amendment would relate to bitcoin and all other digital currencies.

If there is solid evidence, the agency will also be empowered to freeze all assets arising from illegal activity, pending further investment and prosecution. The AMLO will require people providing digital exchange services to file reports about transactions, with a special focus on people involved in suspicious activities that could be covering up money laundering.

Meanwhile, AMLO chairman Pol General Chaiya Siri-ampunkul said the public should be careful when investing in bitcoin and other digital currencies since they could be joining illegal Ponzi schemes using digital currencies.

Most of the schemes promised very high returns but payments were typically delivered for a short time only, after which they stopped and the schemes collapsed, Chaiya said.

He added that investors would not be able to contact criminal networks involved and could lose their investments.

The public should reach AMLO via its 1710 hotline for inquiries, he said.


Labour Minister Adul Sangsingkeo sought Cabinet approval on Wednesday to extend by three months a March 31 deadline for verifying the nationalities of the 900,000 foreign migrant labourers in Thailand.

Adul said he would personally inspect the verification process to ensure it was being handled smoothly and fast, but he noted that the ministry still needed more equipment, such as retina-scanning devices.

Enforcement of a new law governing the management of migrant workers, which stipulates tough penalties for their illegal employment, is to begin once the verification process is completed.

The law would see employers of illegal migrants fined Bt400,000-Bt800,000 for every labourer hired.


Super Full Moon visible on Tuesday

Posted by pakin On December - 28 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
Thailand will see the biggest and brightest moon of 2018 on Tuesday night in a phenomenon known as the “Super Full Moon”.

National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand director Saran Poshyachinda said on Wednesday that the next Super Full Moon would appear in the night sky on January 2, as the moon approaches the Earth at a distance of only 356,595 kilometres.

Saran said the full moon would appear slightly larger than the last super moon on December 3, while compared to a normal full moon it would appear 7 per cent larger and 16 per cent brighter.

He added that the moon would be visible on the eastern horizon beginning at 6pm.

He also encouraged people to go to four National Astronomical Research Institute observation centres in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Songkhla and Chachoengsao where telescopes would be available to view the moon’s geographical features.

People can also go to 260 schools in the National Astronomical Research Institute’s network across the country where telescopes would also be available, he said.

Thai street food cook feels heat of Michelin fame

Posted by pakin On December - 22 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
Wearing her trademark ski goggles for protection from flying sparks, Thai cook Jay Fai hunches over two sizzling woks as tourists from around the world line up in three-hour-long queues at her modest streetside eatery.

The 72-year-old’s crab-stuffed omelettes have always been popular among local gourmands, but her eponymous restaurant shot to global fame overnight after it was awarded a Michelin star this month at the launch of Bangkok’s first guide.

While she is proud of the achievement, former dressmaker Jay Fai is still adjusting to the media frenzy that has seized her open-air kitchen in Bangkok’s old quarter.

“There are advantages and disadvantages,” she told AFP as she flung ingredients into a wok, explaining she did not have time for a formal interview.

“The downside is being exhausted … Also, the government wants me to promote Thailand. I feel like I don’t have a choice,” she added.

She has been asked to appear at the seaside town of Hua Hin for an international tennis tournament this weekend, where she will teach top-ranked players to make her signature crab omelette and the Thai soup dish Tom Yum Kung.

“I will not be selling for two days,” she said ruefully, adding that she would even consider handing back the coveted star if it meant returning to her normal routine.

Any distraction from work means a loss of business for Jay Fai, whose spirited cooking style — a flurry of activity from grabbing handfuls of raw seafood to dishing out plates of the finished product — is one of the main attractions.

Her supersized portions of crab and jumbo prawns are also part of the draw, though the dishes are far pricier than the city’s average street vendor at upwards of $20 a pop.

The unflashy eatery, which has partial indoor seating, was the only streetside venue among the 17 Bangkok restaurants awarded stars on December 6, when Michelin unveiled its first guide for the Thai capital.

Michelin only awards stars to establishments with fixed addresses, leaving many of Bangkok’s famous roadside stalls out of the running at a time when the city is attempting to move them off the pavements and into organised markets.

Jay Fai had heard of the brand name Michelin but was not aware that the French tyre company had anything to do with cooking.

She is not the first chef to feel the heat over the flood of attention that comes with a Michelin star.

In September a chef in southern France with three stars said he wanted to be stripped of the award because of the “huge pressure” to meet its standards on a daily basis.

But Jay Fai’s colleagues are not worried about her.

“She’s quite strong. She never gets ill,” said Kung, an assistant who has worked there for 10 years.//AFP