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Thai monetary, moral meltdown

Officials seek 'most wanted' man in 1997 Asian financial debacle

Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily international correspondent Anthony
C. LoBaido has been reporting from Southeast Asia for the past 12
months. In this update, he chronicles the fate of Pin Chakkaphak, the
alleged “fall guy” for the infamous global crisis known as the 1997
Asian Meltdown — an event that originated in Thailand.

By Anthony C. LoBaido

© 2000, WorldNetDaily.com

BANGKOK, Thailand — “Money is the white man’s god,” is an old
proverb often spoken in the “Sin City” of Bangkok. Yet Thailand’s
once-peaceful society is now caught in its own moral, social, political,
spiritual and economic freefall — a crisis that began, and then
accelerated, after the 1997 Asian economic meltdown.

While facing a variety of social ills, like drugs, AIDS,
prostitution, pedophilia, corruption, environmental degradation, Islamic
insurgency and terrorism, it appears that most Thais are focusing their
attention on the nation’s financial problems.

In Thailand, if drugs and sex are little gods, then the currency
called the Baht is the lord of all creation.

Pin Chakkaphak, Thailand’s erstwhile financial wizard, has been
accused as the god-slayer who brought the Baht to its knees. Born and
raised in the United States, he attended the celebrated Wharton Business
School before working at Chase Manhattan Bank. Currently seeking asylum
in Great Britain, Pin maintains his innocence.

Descent into the absurd

How bad has the meldown been for Thai society?

To begin, on a daily basis, the newsstands in Thailand are filled
with stories and photos of battered babies. Some of the babies have even
had their throats slit on the streets of Bangkok by Thai men high on the
amphetamine Ya Baa, or “Crazy Medicine,” pumped into Siam by the
Burmese junta and communist China.

Communist Chinese flag flies high in Bangkok, despite China’s
flooding of Thailand with the drug Ya Baa, currently destroying the
social fabric of the nation.

While the Thai police have made the criminals “re-enact” their crimes
against the babies in front of the media (holding dolls as a substitute
for the babies and toddlers), sadly it seems that Ya Baa addicts are
recreating their crimes again and again on real children.

Decent Thais and foreigners working in Bangkok have taken notice of
this insanity.

“Around the time of Y2K in December of 1999, there were farangs [the
Thai word for "foreigner"] in Bangkok stocking up on hits of acid, and
pedophiles were stocking up on little boys,” said Michelle Mullaney, a
Hong Kong futures trader who works in Bangkok. “It’s really sick. This
country is overrun with AIDS and drugs and the murder of children, and
no one seems to care.”

“Yet there is so much beauty in Thailand, elephants and beaches and
pretty sunsets, friendly people. But the Western-driven globalization of
their economy has now ruined both their economy and their morals. It’s
just a total meltdown, and it makes me very sad,” she added.

Daily life on the streets of Bangkok ranges from the dangerous to the
absurd. Often the decent must live with the actions of the indecent.

For example, on March 23, this reporter went to a local 7-Eleven to
get a cup of tea. Inside, a cute, well-cared-for Thai female toddler was
eating a Dunkin Munchkin with her mother. The little baby had jelly all
over her face, and seemed quite happy.

Until the baby and her mother stepped outside. There on Khao San Road
– the 24-hour non-stop sex, drug and alcohol-crazed foreign tourist
mecca filled with backpackers from all corners of the earth — a
20-something British man was screaming, running full speed down the
street, and plowed down the woman and the baby.

The British man continued on, chasing a Thai transsexual who had just
turned a trick for him. Enraged that he had mistaken the Thai prostitute
for a woman instead of a man, the Brit tackled and then began beating
the transsexual.

“How often does this happen?” asked a Swedish backpacker and her
friend, while helping the shaken woman and her thankfully uninjured baby
to their feet. “How often do the people here go off on a bender like
this?”

“Bender?” WND’s reporter replied. “This is just morning.”

The meltdown continues

Thailand’s military has reported that over 10 percent of this year’s
recruits are HIV positive. Most of these soldiers are former heroin
addicts. In fact, of the 26,000 Thai men who volunteered for the
military last year, 2,300 privates and 14,000 other soldiers have been
forced to shorten their terms of service.

Another concern for the military are transsexual men, who comprise a
surprisingly large number of Thailand’s promiscuous society. Major
General Saksin Tipyakaysorn, chief of Thailand’s Reserve Affairs
Department, said transsexuals who have had a sex-change operation or
breast implants would be rejected as “mentally ill,” further depleting
the ranks and reducing the pool of recruits for the nation’s armed
forces which face military, refugee and drug threats from neighboring
states like Cambodia, Laos and Burma. If that isn’t enough, there is
also an Islamic insurgency in Southern Thailand.

On the environmental front, Thailand recently laid to rest two young
Thai junk men who “accidentally” opened a cobalt-laden cylinder that had
been sold as scrap metal for a handful of Baht. Their gruesome,
radiation-sickened bodies graced the front pages of the local media,
while nuclear medicine experts flew in from overseas from Japan and
France to assess the damage.

Then there is the plight of Thailand’s national symbol — the
elephant. In 1900, there were over 300,000 elephants in Siam, perhaps as
many as half a million. Today there are 5,000. Some roam the streets of
Bangkok with their “mahouts” seeking to eke out a living. Other
elephants have their mouths stuffed with Ya Baa on the Burma border by
greedy Thais seeking to make the elephants work harder on logging
projects. Some of these elephants have stepped on landmines set up by
Burmese soldiers, further depleting their numbers.

The world famous “Full Moon Party” held every month on an island in
Southern Thailand brings 10,000 Europeans for an all-night orgy of
drugs, dancing and sex. The drug ecstasy is endemic, as is free sex,
venereal disease, abortion, rape, murder, assault, robbery, overdoses
and abductions. Some party-goers — most of whom are wearing nothing more
than their underwear, and some even less — are shipped to psychiatric
wards in Bangkok after consuming psychotropic substances.

On average, Thai police told WorldNetDaily, “at least one person will
die at each party.”

The response to this madness reached its apex recently with the
release of Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film, “The Beach,” which is set on
Khao San Road and the aforementioned island. Thai authorities expect the
film to ensure the growth of the Full Moon Party.

“All these problems have their root cause in greed, and that greed
has only been fueled by desperate Thais who lost everything in the ’97
Asian meltdown,” added Mullaney, who was born in the UK but raised in
Hong Kong. “Without understanding the ’97 meltdown, you can’t understand
the social meltdown currently gripping Thai society, and vice versa.”

Pin wags the financial planet

Just who is Pin Chakkaphak? And how could one man wreak such havoc
on the world economy?

Thai financial wizard Pin Charrapak is now living in exile in
London.
He is being blamed for the 1997 Asian financial meltdown, which had its
genesis in Bangkok, Thailand.

In the mid 1990s, Pin’s major problem was trying to figure out which
of his four Ferraris he wanted to drive that particular day.

His company, Finance One, specialized in highly leveraged corporate
takeovers and acquisitions, liquidations and the like. In 1980, Pin had
exactly one U.S. dollar to his name. By 1992, Pin had erected a $5.5
billion dollar company from that single dollar.

Financed in large part by wealthy Thai families, Pin operated without
restriction from any oversight board during the roaring days of the late
1980s and early ’90s, when Thailand’s foreign funds flooded the Thai
landscape and the economy grew at an astonishing rate. At one point,
Finance One handled more than 20 percent of the total volume on
Thailand’s stock market.

At this time, the Baht was quite strong, trading at around 25 Baht to
one U.S. dollar. (Today the rate is around 37 Baht to the dollar). In
1995, Thailand had at least $30 billion in foreign exchange reserves,
which had been built up since the beginning of the Vietnam War (during
which Thailand served as a major U.S. base of operations. Since World
War II, Thailand has quietly served as a major U.S. ally on the scale of
Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UK.)

Finance One grew rich in a quasi pyramid-style financial operation in
which Pin would borrow money to purchase different companies, then offer
up the new purchases and higher value for huge loans. These loans were
then used to buy even more companies and financial concerns, “most often
without solid accounting work to analyze the cost-benefit ratio, balance
sheet, cash flow and reserves of the acquired companies,” said Mullaney.

By early 1997, however, Finance One had reached a runaway course, and
not even Pin’s Ferraris could catch up with them. As trouble loomed, the
Thai government — which had long overlooked the regulatory breaches of
Finance One’s relationships with foreign and Thai banks and wealthy Thai
nationals — stepped in with a $1.5 billion bailout of Finance One.

In September 1997, perhaps sensing the trouble to come, Pin ejected
from Thailand with a golden parachute, and headed for Los Angeles, New
York, Hong Kong (where Thai Special Forces operatives unsuccessfully
attempted to kidnap Pin and bring him back to Thailand) and then finally
London, the latter long a center of European and international finance,
not to mention Third World profiteering dating back to the heady days of
the British Empire.

Financial analysts and futures traders like Mullany began to see
inherent weak spots in the Thai economy in late 1995 and early 1996.

“Bank assets were vanishing. Exports were down and Thailand’s foreign
debt was climbing toward the $100 million mark,” Mullany told
WorldNetDaily.

“A siege war began on the Thai Baht in 1996. Modern pirates in suits
who like to call themselves hedge fund managers and investment bankers
raided the Baht from overseas via the computer. They sold the Baht in
exchange for U.S. dollars, thus driving down the Baht’s value.”

Mullaney went on to explain that these foreign currency raiders
profited greatly on these arbitrage deals and used the profits to buy
and thus sell down the Baht even further. By engaging in currency
raiding in November of 1996, and in both February and May of 1997 — at
precise three-month periods when the Bank of Thailand was expected to
roll over its 90-day foreign currency contracts with other nations –
the foreign currency speculators forced Thailand’s central bank to
abandon its fixed foreign exchange rate,
meant to protect the Baht.

As the currency raiding continued, the meltdown ensued. Thai
businesses and banks began to lose faith in the Baht, their own
currency, and engaged in a mass conversion to dollars in order to meet
their financial obligations. This of course, says Mullany, “stripped the
dollar cash reserves of the Thai central bank to the bone.”

“This forced the Thai central bank to borrow even more dollars in
exchange for Baht that was losing its value by the minute. Worse still,
the central bank promised to pay dollars in order to buy back its own
Baht in the future,” said Mullaney.

“The Central Bank borrowed another US$30 billion — the exact sum it
had had on hand only months prior to the meltdown. Imagine if today you
had $30,000 in the bank, and tomorrow you woke up and every penny was
gone,” she said. “But beyond that, you owed the bank another US$30,000.”

At this point, Thailand’s business community was sacked with $70
billion in foreign loans. The bond market was weak and the central bank
had no way to raise cash — either Baht or dollars — to replenish its
foreign cash reserves.

WorldNetDaily witnessed a similar meltdown in South Korea in November
and December of 1997, when the Korean currency went from 775 Won to US$1
to more than 2,000 Won to the dollar virtually overnight.

A Thai woman labors on a coconut plantation. Commodity prices
in developing nations dropped 60 percent between 1970 and 1990 and are
likely to drop another 60 percent by the year 2025. Exporting
commodities like rubber, rice and coconuts are an important source of
foreign exchange earnings for nations in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

“As in the case of South Korea, Thailand made the mistake in the
early 1990s of over-liberalizing its foreign currency regulations. This
is like blood in the water for the foreign currency raiders, who feed in
a frenzy like sharks,” said Mullany.

Faced with a massive and total financial meltdown and national
bankruptcy, Thailand’s central bank decided to abandon the fixed
exchange rate system and float the Baht on the open market. The Baht
went from 25 Baht to the dollar to the mid-40s to the U.S. dollar.
Floating the Baht led directly to the Asian meltdown, which affected the
entire world.

Thailand, meanwhile, took the brunt of its financial meltdown in the
moral, social and spiritual decline described in the first part of this
report.

As they did in South Korea, Western corporations and banks swooped in
like hawks to buy up “failing” Thai businesses and financial
institutions for a song. A new virtual financial colonialism had emerged
as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank immediately began an
austerity program to “rebuild” Thailand’s economy.

After the Asian meltdown, Thai governmental authorities charged Pin
with embezzling almost $80 million from Finance One. In recent months,
the Thai government has sought Pin’s extradition from the UK back to
Thailand, where he would face trial.

Will Pin escape jail?

On December 11, 1999, Pin was arrested in London in regard to the
embezzlement charges, but was soon released on a $3 million bond. He
lives in London in the upscale Belgravia district. WorldNetDaily has
learned that Pin has his name listed in the phone book and travels under
his real name and has used his Thai passport since his flight from
Bangkok.

Though Thailand and the UK have an extradition agreement, extradition
is still tricky business that involves a lot of legal minutiae.

Alan Jones, Pin’s British lawyer, spoke recently at the Bow Street
Magistrates Court in the UK, and stated that the Thai government’s
charges of conspiracy and trading fraud should not be included in Pin’s
extradition hearing.

Since Britain’s legal framework differs from Thailand’s in many
respects, trying Pin, if it ever happens, is expected to be a long,
arduous and drawn-out process.

Thai authorities have been unable to find a single Baht or dollar of
the $80 million they claim Pin embezzled from Finance One.

“It is a huge sum to move around undetected,” said Mullany.

Furthermore, a 1,000-page document given to Pin’s lawyers on Feb. 14
did not contain a single charge of theft or embezzlement for personal
gain in relation to Pin’s work with Finance One.

Pin says he is being fingered as a Judas goat “for all the misdeeds
and failed policies that brought on the Thai and Asian [economic]
disasters.”

A harbinger of the future?

Is Thailand’s fate something that should concern Westerners,
particularly Americans? Could a Thai-style meltdown hit Wall Street?
After all, one prominent global financial analyst recently called the
U.S. “another Thailand waiting to happen.”

“People think Alan Greenspan has abolished the business cycle, and
that Amazon.com can lose massive millions and still be profitable.
Amazon.com has four times more liabilities than positive holdings of
cash and securities. Yahoo! and Amazon.com are not invulnerable, just
like RCA was not invulnerable in the 1929 Crash,” lamented Mullaney.

“The NASDAQ is rising only because of massive borrowing by companies
of one another’s shares. More and more money is being hoarded in the
technology stocks. The price-earnings gap in the ‘new’ and ‘old’ stocks,
‘technology’ versus traditional blue chips and ‘commodity’ stocks is the
biggest in any market in history. Collectively, all shares on the market
are overvalued by at least 40 percent, perhaps more.

“The U.S. market has already crashed several times. The Clinton
people used their ‘plunge protection team’ to buy up certain important
stocks with money from the Federal Reserve. After the next crash, China
was asked to buy US$20 billion in certain stocks. How long can Clinton
and Greenspan continue to plug the holes in the dike before it bursts
like Thailand?”


Previous stories by Anthony LoBaido on Thailand:

Sunset in Thailand? Playground of the amoral West

New canal for a new century

New terrorist camps in ‘Killing Fields’

U.N. harbors would-be assassin

Colonel Sanders doesn’t do ‘funky chicken’

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