Police in Thailand have arrested one of three Japanese suspects who allegedly took $200,000 from 46 Vietnamese people without giving them high-paid jobs as promised.
A police source said they arrested the man, only identified as Nakatsu, last Thursday when he was entering Thailand from Chiang Mai.
Investigation so far found the Vietnamese job seekers had paid his company US$4,500 each late last year. They were promised jobs at a Thailand factory with a monthly salary of more than $1,000.
The workers are from rural areas in northern Vietnam and many said they borrowed money to pay the company.
Most did not know what their jobs would be as the company promised to train them first before assigning them a job.
Some men ended up dissembling used electronics to collect plastic and metal parts for recycling.
The first workers who arrived in Thailand received salaries, prompting many others to follow them.
But after a while, all of the workers were no longer paid, and soon later their bosses disappeared.
They filed a lawsuit in Thailand in March and have been living off donations from Thai and Vietnamese people in the country.
Hoang Van Dat, one of the Vietnamese workers, said Nakatsu directly collected their payment, managed them, trained them and rented houses for them in Thailand.
He said the other “bosses” are Sato Hiroaki, believed to be the company’s director, and another one only identified as Suzuki.
The Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok are cooperating with Thai authorities to investigate the fraud and help the Vietnamese workers return home.
Thailand has not signed any labor trade pacts with Vietnam.
Vietnamese deputy labor minister said earlier this year that the countries are still discussing before possibly signing an agreement this year for Vietnam to officially send its workers to Thailand.
Figures from Thailand showed that between 50,000 and 100,000 Vietnamese are already working in Thailand illegally. Most of them are from Vietnam’s impoverished central region.