Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thailand's Army keeping eye on Burma casinos

THEERAWAT KHAMTHITA

Chiang Rai _ Soldiers along the northern border here are keeping a close watch on the movement of cash from casinos in Burma coming into Thailand after reports that influential figures are using gambling dens as venues to strike vote-buying deals.

Col Sompong Jaengjamras, commander of the third cavalry unit of the Pha Muang task force in Chiang Rai, said a group of people were found to have carried 200,000 to 300,000 baht in cash in trips to and from casinos in Burma _ a secret meeting place for those involved in vote buying, the officer said.

''The situation looks normal, but these people have begun their work,'' he said.

His unit has been monitoring the cash flow between Burma and Mae Sai and Chiang Saeng districts, the two main entrances to Thailand from Burma.

Col Sompong said his unit was ready to cooperate with police and launch raids and search the houses of influential figures in the area in the run-up to the Dec 23 election.

The military found that huge amounts of cash moved between the two countries many times before the Aug 19 referendum on the new charter.

Army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda has ordered the Pha Muang task force to support state authorities and help maintain free and fair elections.

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