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Phuket visitor Gabriel Sequeira is reunited with his family in South Africa

Phuket Police Chief Probes Riddle of the '700,000 Baht Rip-Off'

Sunday, October 2, 2011
PHUKET: A top-level investigation is underway into allegations that Phuket police and lawyers defrauded a South African tourist of about 700,000 baht.

Concern about the case is being expressed in Johannesburg, London and Bangkok as well as on Phuket, where regional Tourism Authority of Thailand director Bangornrat Shinaprayoon said today: ''We need to know the whole truth.''

She could not confirm a report that 300 tourists from South Africa who were due to visit Phuket for a medical conference had altered their destination to Dubai because of the case.

The Johannesburg Star and its online site first reported the Phuket ''ordeal'' of Gabriel Sequeira, 43.

On a 10-day holiday on Phuket last month with his family, Mr Sequeira is alleged to have tried to pass fake US dollars at a bank on the final day of the trip.

According to the Star, Mr Sequeira ended up paying 200,000 rand - the equivalent of more than 700,000 baht - to police and lawyers before his passport was returned so he could fly off Phuket.

Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong has been ordered by Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok to fully investigate the matter.

The order came late on Friday after a Phuketwan reporter contacted Major General Pekad, who at that stage had no knowledge of the allegations.

Today Major General Pekad met with Colonel Boonlert On-Kang, of Chalong Police Station, the officer in charge of the case.

Colonel Boonlert, who is well-regarded, has been ordered to write a full report.

The call for a thorough explanation came from the office of the Thai Ambassador in South Africa via the London office of the TAT, which oversees the region.

It is likely that Phuket's honorary consuls will also seek a ''please explain'' because all cases where Phuket police confiscate passports are supposed to be reported directly to Major General Pekad, who then notifies the appropriate envoy.

Mr Sequeira told the Star on arrival back in Johannesburg on Thursday that he had produced receipts for the US dollars that had been issued in South Africa.

''Basically I had to buy my way out,'' the newspaper quoted him as saying.

However, Colonel Boonlert today denied any wrongdoing or police involvement in a shakedown.

''If Mr Sequeira paid over any money, then it must have been to his lawyers,'' the colonel said.

A statement warranting examination emerged today with the revelation that one of Mr Sequeira's friends said in an email that Mr Sequeira had also been carrying with him $2000 in US notes, left over from a holiday he had taken in Mauritius 10 years ago.

It remains unclear at this stage where Mr Sequeira was held and for how long before he was released on bail, but his wife Carla was ''sickened by what she saw when she went to visit him.''

''He was in a tiny cell the size of a toilet cubicle with about 10 other foreign men,'' the report said. ''There was a dip in the centre where they could relieve themselves and there was a guy on the floor eating food.

''Gabriel was holding onto the bars and said 'Try and get me out of here.'''

The article headlined 'My R200,000 holiday hell 'is not likely to encourage South Africans to travel to Phuket.

It follows publication in a popular magazine in Germany of a long report on violence and extortion by Phuket's tuk-tuk and jet-ski operators.

The Star said the South African family's problems began as they were ''about to check out of their hotel when Sequeira crossed the road to exchange $US1000 at the bank in order to settle his hotel bill.''

The couple ''believe they were targeted because Sequeira was exchanging a large amount and police had identified him as a rich individual.''

At some point, the Star said, the authorities ''demanded more money to take the dollars to Bangkok for forensic investigation - costs of which the family had to cover.''

On Wednesday, after Sequeira was given his passport to withdraw the equivalent of his last 20,000 rand, he managed to leave Thailand.

''He paid a fine for overstaying his visa and was free to leave with no pending criminal action against him on record,'' the Star said.
Phuket Police Accused in 700,000 Baht Holiday 'Ordeal'
Latest The South African media is reporting that a Phuket holidaymaker had to pay more than 700,000 baht to extract himself from a false claim that he had passed fake US dollar bills.
Phuket Police Accused in 700,000 Baht Holiday 'Ordeal'

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Get the broom... Lift up the carpet...........

Posted by innocent bystander on October 2, 2011 16:03


Now it seems the Mr Sequeira was a naughty man. It clearly states in the back of a South African Passport,
Foreign Travel Allowance
1.Allowance may be used only for travel and subsistance purposes abroad
2.Unused amounts must be resold to your banker in South Africa.
4. Contravention of 1. or 2. above is a criminal offence.

US Dollar series of notes were changed about five years ago, so Mr Sequeira's U S Dollar notes would have indeed been false.
I am just keeping my South African name intact.
Mr Sequeira maybe next time, be mum, before blaming the wrong party ok?

Posted by Robin on October 2, 2011 16:14


"No comments so far. Be the first to comment using the form below."

LOL!! Nuff said.

Posted by dan ryan on October 2, 2011 16:26


"Welcome to Phuket. We hope you'll have a pleasant stay and hope you will return again in the future."

Posted by Sky on October 2, 2011 17:21


I will say no more than he got off lightly.

Posted by SA on October 2, 2011 20:09


To let the police investigate themselves seem like a very bad idea ... most countries have an independent bureau that carries out this kind of investigation, somehow assumed Thailand had one too.

Posted by Bjarne on October 3, 2011 11:08


@ Robin
Your information is incorrect, old USD do become false because new series are issued, check out US Treasuries, Bureau of engraving and printing :
""Will there be a recall or devaluation of the older-series notes?
There will be no recall or devaluation of the older-series notes, which will be removed from circulation as they wear out. Older worn notes will be replaced with the new notes.""

Posted by Bjarne on October 3, 2011 11:21


I am speaking from my own experience with Rennies Travel Bellville, Western Cape. I had old series US$ notes and vendors would not accept them. They were changed by Rennies Travel for the new series and the old notes were taken back.
That was five years ago.
South Africa has very strict laws govening currency, here we are not the US nor Britain nor Europe.

Posted by Robin on October 3, 2011 12:09


Bjarne, you don't seem to be able to understand English. You wrote: "There will be no recall or devaluation of the older-series notes, which will be removed from circulation as they wear out." Old series US bills are NOT recalled, i.e., they are continued to be used until they wear out and are replaced with new ones. As long as the bills passed by Mr Sequeira were not excessively worn out, they remain legal tender. Any American knows this. I have personally used many old series bills in the USA on a regular basis.

Posted by Frank C. on October 3, 2011 12:50


@ Frank

Unfortunately the sentence should have been "Old USD do NOT..become false" exactly as the extract from the quoted webpage says ... sorry you did not manage to understand it properly.
But you should have been able to understand that Robin stated they were false and I the opposite. ... so yes we agree old notes can be easily used and are not false just because a new series is issued.

Posted by Bjarne on October 3, 2011 13:37


I have some old Deutsche Mark notes here (sentimental I am). But I would not try to change them into Baht in Thailand. Even so, they are and will be legal notes and I can go to every German central bank branch to get their value or whatever.

Maybe Mr. Sequeira was not aware, that the US$ changed or did not care. And maybe a young staff at the exchange never saw this bills in her life and thought they are forged. And the police had to investigate. And now the thing starts to get murky, aka the interesting part begins. It should have been a matter of hours to get the Thai experts to state if false currency or not.

From far it seems, Mr. Sequeira was scammed out of a lot of money, because of fear.

And to Robin: I don't know about SA laws, but it seems to be a different problem, then the one Mr. Sequeira encountered on Phuket, wouldn't you agree?

Posted by Lena on October 3, 2011 14:46


Just came from a big meeting with the South African Police Services, yes I have very high contacts, wow, there is more to this than the general pubiblic will be privy to.
Tough all you armchair keyboard knights, lay back and and chill out.
You folks out there, know eF all about South Africa.
Bye babies. Live in Euro land.

Posted by Robin on October 3, 2011 21:03


Robin, is your last name Thebank?

Posted by Horatio on October 4, 2011 00:50


did mr sequeira, his family or his lawyers contact his embassy during his incarceration??

Posted by another steve on October 4, 2011 14:06

Friday June 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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