The home in an exclusive Bangkok residential compound popular with diplomats was rented ostensibly by the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru for its consul-general to Thailand, his family and staff.
But Onassis Dame, the Nauruan diplomat, and his family did not live there.
Instead the residence, which investigators raided on Dec. 22, was used as a base for forging passports by foreigners including two Chinese nationals wanted by Beijing, Thai police have said.
Dame’s whereabouts as well as his and the Nauru consulate’s role, if any, in the passport mill are unclear. According to the Thai police, the illicit operation forged Chinese and Nauru passports.
Dame’s term as consul-general had expired in November, Pol. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, Thailand’s deputy national police chief, told a press conference on Monday.
The consulate entered into the property lease in early September when Dame still headed it, according to a legal letter on behalf of the leasing company, a copy of which RFA-affiliate BenarNews obtained.
“If the consul-general told the Chinese to stay [at the property], he is taken as supporting the Chinese. If so, he was at fault. But it will be based on the investigation,” Surachate said.
An employee at Nauru’s consulate in Thailand said on Tuesday that Dame had been recalled – a term that can cover various scenarios including the scheduled end of a posting, a diplomat’s poor behavior, or a government wanting to convey its displeasure with the host country.
Thailand’s Diplomatic and Consular List shows that Dame became consul-general in October 2019.
Nauru’s vice-consul, John Yu,