Italian arrested in Thailand over US$10m human trafficking ring fraud

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 4:14pm


Thai authorities have arrested an Italian wanted over alleged links to a human trafficking ring which swindled around US$10 million from European taxpayers and banks, immigration officials said on Thursday.

Stefano Raccagni, 38, is wanted in Italy on suspicion of being part of a 12-strong Milan-based gang that smuggled people into the country to defraud tax authorities and banks, according to a Thai immigration statement.

“The Italian embassy accused him being a core member of an organised crime gang ... and falsifying documents for illegal immigrants to get money from authorities and banks,” the statement added, without providing further details.

The man was arrested on Tuesday in the northern city of Chiang Mai where he had settled with a Thai girlfriend since arriving in the kingdom in 2009, police said.

“Italian authorities say he has around US$10 million in his bank account,” an immigration police officer said, requesting anonymity, adding the man was running a small loans business in the Thai city.

He will be extradited soon, the official added.

Thailand is a prime destination in Asia for people on the run from authorities in their own countries.

On Thursday immigration authorities said they had arrested a French woman on the tourist island of Samui wanted in France over an alleged US$1.3 million fraud involving contracts to build homes. She will be repatriated.

In December a Thai court ordered the extradition of a former banker and Italian mafia boss accused of laundering money for two Sicilian godfathers.

Vito Roberto Palazzolo, arrested in Thailand in March last year after investigators tracked him down through Facebook, is considered to be a leading member of the Cosa Nostra Sicilian mafia.