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Foreigners working illegally – Russian man arrested for illegally running crypto exchange on Koh Phangan

A Russian national has been arrested for illegally providing cryptocurrency exchange services on Koh Phangan island in the south of Thailand.

Police arrested Ibragim Gaitukiev, 36, at a house on Sri Thanu beach in tambon Koh Phangan of this southern province, Pol Maj Gen Sermphan Sirikhong, chief of Surat Thani province, said on Friday.

The arrest followed a police investigation that a bitcoin website had run advertisements online to buy and sell cryptocurrencies in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan districts of Surat Thani. The phone and WhatsApp number shown on the website for customers to contact were linked to the bank accounts of Mr Gaitukiev and another foreign national, Maksim Variukhin, according to the Surat Thani police chief.

Police investigators found the two foreign nationals were executives of OM 118 Co on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani. The company used a house on Sri Thanu beach on this tourist island as its office.  

The house also ran a cannabis shop, “Plantasia cannabis collective’’, with a sign reading “Bitcoin’’ placed in front of the shop, according to the police investigation.

Police search a cannabis shop, on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani. The shop also provides crytocurrency exchange services.  (Photo: Surat Thani police)

The investigators believed the shop was the venue for cryptocurrency exchange as advertised on the website. The officers later obtained a court warrant from the Samui Provincial Court on Wednesday to search the shop. The arresting team searched the shop on Thursday. 

Mr Gatukiev was present during the search and told police he was the owner of the shop.  

The arresting team searched the cannabis shop and found no illegal items. There were advertisements about cryptocurrency exchange inside the shop.

Mr Gatukiev was arrested for illegally running a cryptocurrency exchange. 

During questioning, he allegedly admitted that he and Mr Variukhin had provided digital currency services to tourists. 

Mr Gatukiev was charged and taken to Koh Phangan police station for legal action. Police did not provide details regarding the other foreign national.

Read the full story at Bangkok Post – Russian man arrested for illegally running crypto exchange on Koh Phangan which was brought to us by Google Alerts.

Photo credit @ Bangkok Post Surat Thani police

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