BANGKOK — Police on Monday said they will summon a man who allegedly demanded commission fees off the top of state quarantine contracts from hotels selected for the program.
Deputy police commissioner Suwat Jangyodsuk said investigators have found sufficient leads in their probe into the scheme that asked seven hotels in Chonburi province for payment. A court warrant will be issued for the main suspect, whose name has been withheld by police, he said.
“Investigators are questioning hoteliers in Chonburi province,” Pol. Gen. Suwat said. “There are about 7 to 8 hotels being used as state quarantine facilities, though none of them have been reported to fall into the scam.”
The investigation was launched after hotel operators said they were approached by several men who posed themselves as health officials from the government’s COVID-19 response center.
They reportedly promised hoteliers that their contract with the government would be secured if they agreed to pay 40 percent of what the hotel received from hosting Thai returnees from overseas for 14 days.
More than 20,000 people returning from overseas have been placed under state quarantine facilities nationwide, including hotels and dormitories. Under the current arrangement, the government pays participating hotels 1,000 baht per person per day to cover the accommodation cost.
Health officials deny demanding payment for entry into the program. A defamation complaint was filed by deputy chief of provincial public health office Seri Jedsukhonthorn on Saturday, who said the suspects ruined his office’s reputation by claiming to be working for the agency.
Defense spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said at least six people have been implicated in the scam ring. He also denied media reports that members of the armed forces are involved.
Transparency activist Srisuwan Janya also filed a petition demanding answers from the authorities on Monday. He said the investigation made no progress even though the news broke nearly two weeks ago.