Fraudsters in Bangkok far richer than traditional gangland figures back home
‘Money talks’ and Thai Police are ‘Stupid Is As Stupid Does’ says Britain’s new foreign crime ‘elite’.
A British crime gang operating innocuous sounding ‘cold calling centres’ is now reported to have topped over US$600 million in its fraud operations based out of Bangkok and operating throughout Asia.
This is triple the estimated worth of Britain’s Adams Family aka the ‘Clerkenwell Mob’, who in their heyday were believed to have amassed some US$200 million before police finally closed their operations.
And,contrary to police claims, they have been thriving under Thailand’s military government by paying police and military officials for their licence to defraud – providing they did not target Thai nationals – and bolstering Thailand’s reputation as the major ‘international fraud hub’.
The situation is unlikely to change after this year’s elections. Corruption crosses the political divide.
While Thailand’s new ‘anti-corruption’ super cop Surachate Hakparn, nicknamed ‘Big Joke’, continues to publicise his achievements against foreign criminals under the slogan ‘Bad guys out Good guys in’ and ‘Operation X-Ray Foreigners’ the real money earners, the richest of whom is Briton Paul John Hayward boss of the ‘Panthera Group’ and Nana Plaza, Bangkok, ‘the world’s largest adult playground‘ continues to remain untouched, while posing as a long-term legitimate businessman.
Hayward styles himself as the ‘King of the Clubs’ but his real cash comes from boiler room fraud ripping off people worldwide by convincing them to put their pension pots into by buying shares in well known legitimate prospering companies (the companies are legit the shares never come) and feel-good green and environmental projects.
But the cash only goes into his pocket and those of his minions a rag-tag army of predominantly young Brits playing ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.
Here (and above top) is bald headed Paul Hayward (left of picture) at the ring-side at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in 2009 for the world title fight between Briton Ricky Hatton and Filipino Manny Pacquiao. (8.42 on this video and it took me hours to find him)
Hayward travelled to Vegas with a bunch of over 20 of his internet fraudsters including his favourite ‘Twitchy’ and over US$100,000 in cash to play the slots. There was not one straight businessman in his group.
Hayward was seated just two rows from the ring. Seats there could have cost anything from US$16,000 to US$32,000. That was a bit sad for Hayward. ‘Hitman Hatton’ went down in the second round. That would have cost Hayward, aka Hilton, a cool US$3000+ to US$6000+ a minute to see his fellow Brit lose his world championship title.
But in Thailand he pays his Thai serving staff, who are not cheating for him, under the minimum wage.
In the last six months Hayward has reportedly accumulated some US$20 million more from scams many using the company Pro-Asia. Most of these ‘bad guys should show up under any scrutiny by Hakparn’s Royal Thai Immigration Police. The rub is that they could not exist in Thailand were Thailand’s immigration cops not on the take.
In Bangkok’s boiler rooms, known oddly to Thai police as call-centres, there is now a Forrest Gump expression doing the rounds. It is ‘Stupid Is As Stupid Does’. The joke, they say, is on ‘Big Joke’ himself.
This refers to the Thai police in relation to the comparatively low amounts of money allegedly spread around Immigration, Crime Suppression Division, Economic Crime, and AMLO offices to enable boiler rooms run by Briton Paul John Hayward to carry on unhindered.
That may be a little unfair because rival boiler room operators, who have since left the market, complained that Hayward had raised the stakes considerably in 2001 by offering much too much or rather ‘silly money’ to Thai police.
In the early days 20,000 baht a month and a dinner would suit a police district colonel.
‘The current thinking is that they are committing the perfect crime. The police are easy to pay off and they’re quite stupid about it when you think of the figures involved. Some people have got rich and left with the cash, others will never ever stop. In Thailand money buys respect in a much greater way than it does back home, even though many of the rich are also corrupt. Thai police even used to salute me if I was with one of the bosses. But if you stop and think about it, well it gets to you, at least it did with me,’ a former telephone hustler said.
But Thai Americans John W McCleary and James McCleary who used to be the bagmen for Hayward, when the Panthera Group in Thailand was known as the Eclipse Group, claim from Florida, U.S. that by 2005 Hayward and his then partners Mark Hutcherson and Don ‘Kameron’ Kern were paying out in excess of US$600,000 per month to the amalgamation of law enforcement agencies.
Hayward’s wealth is spread around nominees technically holding companies in Thailand bought principally with holdalls full of cash and often at way above market value.
Hayward has also made investments in a hotel in Scotland, and the Novotel in Silom, Bangkok and here are a few of his investments in Thailand for readers who are discerning about where they like to rave, get their ‘sexual service’, ravioli, or hamburger in a bun.
Levels night club, Insanity Night Club, V8 diner, Sugars night club, Aussie pub, Thai Spice, all in Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Rossano’s Italian Cuisine, Asoke Soi 2, Bangkok, Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub Sukhumvit Soi 23, and Phuket, Baccara (glass ceiling bars) in Soi Cowboy, Bangkok, and Pattaya, Suzie Wong’s, in Soi Cowboy, Whisgars, Soi Cowboy, Molly Malones, Phuket. In a couple of the above he has ‘partnerships. He also, of course, owns Sunbelt Asia. Then there’s Tropical Murphy’s on Koh Samui and the latest acquisition Birds Rotisserie. etc. etc.
While his principal ‘holding company’ or rather presence on the net is the ‘Panthera Group’, its website is like the websites he puts up for the phoney companies he creates to sell shares. Generic pictures. No mention of directors (other than Hayward). The difference is that it does give a real address.
His companies are set up in the names of nominees, who are paid for the use of their names – and know that any attempt to control the companies themselves could have serious consequences.
And then again Hayward has spread his cash heavily offshore and likes the British Virgin Islands where numerous linked companies feed into a holding company have continued to be created and dissolved since 2001
The Panthera-Group describes itself as ‘one of the fastest growing private companies in Thailand’.
And so it should be.
But this should also make Paul Hayward very famous. But where are the internet profiles of this famously successful businessman? He once claimed he was so famous he didn’t like to go out and buy a loaf of bread.
There are none in any mainstream media. The only mention of the Panthera Group in the English language media and online are paid for business blurbs, or handouts, relating to the acquisitions of Whisgars and Sunbelt Asia.
The only person to interview him has been a Glasgow clown running a site (Stickboy) for foreigners checking up on what’s on in Thailand’s sex venues.
Hayward’s own blurb reprinted in the Bangkok Post and elsewhere states:
“The recently rebranded (Panthera) Group was formed over 17 years ago as an amalgamation of various Food & Beverage, nightlife, Hotel, Property, Investment and Management companies.”
As the article was dated last year that would make it 2001 when the first company was formed. No, there were no hotels then, or nightclubs, but Hayward had just put some of his first earnings into the bar business while fleeing the country.
This is how it really started. On July 26th, 2001 with Australian Federal Police and FBI accompanying them the Royal Thai Police made some 20 raids on ‘boiler rooms’ in Bangkok, most notable of which was the Brinton Group, led by Irishman Jon Kealy, who had fled in anticipation.
Hayward had been recruited from his home town in Birmingham in the U.K. in the late 90’s and secured work with International Asset Management run by Americans Danny Sterk and Robert Casciola in ‘Q House’ Convent Road, Bangkok.
Everyone who could do so was fleeing with their cash or finding somewhere to hide it. Hayward was doing both.
On the very same day (July 26) Hayward, then a friend an associate of Jon Kealy, created the company Hospitality Venture Group and the next day he was heading to the airport.
Once there, Hayward was stopped together with colleagues from I.A.M. American Donald Kern, 40, Richard Albino, 43, and Briton Patrick Campbell, 33, trying to board flight TG969 to Zurich carrying with them US$100,000 in cash together with 2.5 million baht, then about US$40,000. They ‘donated’ the cash to the Thai police who said they had handed the cash ‘to help with the country’s economic recovery.’
Paul John Hayward’s name was given in press reports as plain John Hayward, but that’s a usual Thai police mistake. They often get foreign first names mixed up with middle names and even surnames.
International Asset Management was not raided until August 7 but having risen through the ranks to become the richest ‘top loader’ he had already made the decision to quit and start up on his own.
He had had two companies in the UK and while he was away his last one Saturn Computer Training Company was dissolved and struck off the UK business registry.
He returned, when the heat had died, and cleaned out International Asset Management ‘slops and all’.
(Slopping – – To run a ‘Slop Shop’ or to otherwise engage specifically in “rescuing” clients from a previous fraud by using a second fraud 'to get clients money back')
Hospitality Ventures became Eclipse, and PAM Consultants (Paul and Micky Consultants) and several other companies before it rose like a phoenix last year as the Panthera Group.
In the first years Hayward was spreading his cash through go-go bars, Irish, Aussie and Kiwi theme-pubs and restaurants – one of his most spectacular failures was a group of restaurants called ‘Coyote’ – then moving finally on to clubs and his major goal Nana Plaza – a joint venture with the Indian-Thai FICO Corporation, who hid their 51% shareholding under the subsidiary company Fena Assets.
Former Hong Kong bar manager, Irishman Micky Doherty, had become the conduit through which Hayward managed his ‘entertainment venues’ and who Hayward referred to as the ‘wife’ in the partnership.
Now Panthera’s investment arm ‘Milestone Ventures’ is also used in washing boiler room cash ‘loaning’ its Hayward controlled companies the cash to be used in buying up stuff in Scotland and Holland and elsewhere. (Top loaders also invest their earning through Milestone though not many other people want to use a Thai based investment company!)
Donald ‘Kameron’ Kern, who was stopped at Bangkok airport with Hayward was dead within a year. His body was found in July 2012 at his 4th floor apartment in Omni Tower in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Soi 4 and according to his obituary he had a massive heart attack at the age of 41. He had become Hayward’s ‘Operations Manager’ and partner in many of the scams, some carried out under the name Jackson Cole.
The McCleary brothers insist that the death was not self-inflicted. John McCleary said he had had lunch with ‘Kameron the day before insists that ‘Kameron’, that he died of a massive and forced overdose of heroin, carried out by hired off-duty military men. It is unlikely to be proven either way. Thai police rarely investigate drugs deaths. His death was recorded at the police hospital as ‘heart stopped’.
Two other former high-profile partners of Hayward have also died prematurely. Glendon Bullard, a known cocaine user, died, aged 47, of an overdose in Pai, northern Thailand, while on honeymoon and celebrating the birth of a baby son in 2015 and a few months later Mark Hutcherson, Hayward’s partner in many boiler rooms across Asia, including Malaysia and the Philippines, died aged 54 in Plano Texas.
There is no evidence to suggest Hayward was involved in these deaths.
Nevertheless Hayward retains full time bodyguards drawn from the military and police and they are not there because he is a celebrity.
As we have shown on this site, and by the Confederation of Defrauded Victims, Paul Hayward, using the name Paul Hilton has continued his boiler rooms for years and has yet to stop.
Just as in 2001 when boiler rooms moved out of large central Bangkok offices to private houses, and even up to the northern capital Chiang Mai, Hayward keeps his top loaders to himself moving them out to Ekkamai, eastern Bangkok and now even further into the suburbs.
Only a few people, except readers here knew Paul Hilton’s real name until he associated it with the Panthera Group, but he had to use it on the numerous times he visited clone operations abroad such as in Manila, Kuala Lumpur etc and of course when he travelled to Vegas.
In fact Surachate’s immigration police have a complete travel profile for Hayward to places where he does not own any bars, but where he banks, has set up phony companies, and has operated boiler rooms.
This is one of the Thai Police Immigration department photos taken on Hayward’s return from a trip to Manila.
While it is true that Thai Police have had some success in stopping Chinese boiler rooms, that is because the Chinese authorities have ‘zero tolerance’ when it comes to offshore fraud on their own citizens and have a greater influence over Thai affairs as they are the current major source of the tourist dollar courted heavily by the Thai government.
More assets then British law enforcement
Even though Hayward took down hundreds of Britons for millions in his scams under the phoney Brussels based company Jackson Cole, British law enforcement has not been aggressive. British and Australian anti-boiler room policy is pretty much restricted to public service announcements warning people not to get conned by internet fraudsters.
British law enforcement agencies may further not want to upset the apple cart as major British banks have been among the receiving banks. Further, the world of offshore cash is very much a British creation and the last vestige of an empire which does not exist anymore. Britain controls some 30 per cent of offshore wealth.
Fraud agencies also know their chances of finding the cash for the victims are slim and often its better retiring to work for a ‘receiving bank’ as did one Economic Crime Unit officer employed in an early Hayward investigation, who later joined HSBC Hong Kong (used by Hayward as a receiving bank for boiler room fraud money).
Nevertheless the name Hayward is known well to law enforcement in Britain, Europe, and the United States and he has been the subject of several abandoned investigations, a notable one being when the Eclipse Group bought Crawley Town Football Club.
Hayward has at his disposal more cash than Britain’s entire budget for cracking down on offshore fraud.
Not a penny more
He chose as his publicist Glaswegian, Mike Mackay, the clown who hovers around and writes about Thailand’s sex entertainment industry, and who, in between writing questionable headlines about foreigners committing suicide from high buildings in Thailand, has done two deferential interviews with Hayward on his ‘Stickboy’ blog.
The first ‘exclusive’ appeared to concentrate on an unnamed blogger who was allegedly libelling him and the second was his plans for Nana Plaza. Neither interview carried a picture of Hayward/Hilton.
In fact, if Hayward sees someone taking a snap of him with their smart phones he will instruct his ‘security’ to make sure the image is deleted.
A recent defector said: “Paul just pays Mike enough to take care of his bar life, not a penny more.”
Part of Mackay’s spiel is to congratulate Hayward repeatedly on his 20 years in the bar and entertainment business. But, of course, 20 years ago all Hayward knew about the bar business was ‘Make mine a Jack Coke’ and that is pretty much the same as today. But he knows how to make a dishonest dime.
Information in this report comes from witnesses who have signed statements but do not wish at this stage to be identified for obvious reasons.