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Cablegate: Blue Lantern Level 3: Pre-License End-Use Check On

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005446

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS, PM/DTCC -- BLUE LANTERN COORDINATOR
(JSTITZIEL)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETTC KOMC TH BLUE LANTERN
SUBJECT: BLUE LANTERN LEVEL 3: PRE-LICENSE END-USE CHECK ON
APPLICATION 05-972741

REF: SECSTATE 151249

1. Per reftel request, POL FSN made inquiries into the bona
fides of Somboon Firearms Ltd and determined the following
information.

Somboon is registered with the Thai Ministry of Commerce,
Department of Business Development as:

The Somboon Firearms Co. Ltd.
Capital Registration 240,000 Baht
The registration lists 8 partners in the concern:
Ms. Suwanna Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 10,000 Baht
Mr. Suphat Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 40,000 Baht
Ms. Rattana Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 40,000 Baht
Mr. Chaiwat Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 40,000 Baht
Mr. Thanin Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 80,000 Baht
Ms. Ubon Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 10,000 Baht
Ms. Wanthani Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 10,000 Baht
Ms. Suphanni Laohaphiengsak with shares worth 10,000 Baht

Manager of the Company is Ms. Suwanna Laohaphiengsak
Address: 111 Nakhon Sawan Road, Wat Sommanat Sub-District,
Pomphrap Satruphai District, Bangkok
The Company has submitted annual financial reports for the
years 1999-2004

2. Pol FSN met with Mr. Prawet, Chief of the Shop Permit
Section of the Thai Ministry of Interior's Department of
Provincial Administration, Bureau of Investigation and Legal
Affairs, Public Service Center. Prawet provided copies of
permits from his Ministry allowing the import/purchase of 10
.357 revolvers by Ms. Suvanna Laohaphiengsak of the Somboon
Firearms Co. Ltd. The documents provided by Mr. Prawet
concur with those in reftel. Prawet was unaware of the USML
and its restrictions but, after being briefed on its
requirements, said that, according to Thai law, a non-Thai
who lives in Thailand for more than six months is allowed to
buy a gun and is able to take that gun out of the country via
appropriate customs procedures. However, the foreign buyer
has to pass the same state background check that a Thai
national must pass.

3. Pol FSN made an unannounced visit to Somboon and
described it being located in a five story combined
residential/office building beside a main road near a police
station. Pol FSN noted no security guard, no CCTV, and no
iron grill on the first floor window. The office was closed
but a char employed there was present. The building had no
sign or symbol identifying it as a gun shop. The domestic
employee explained that the building was for administrative
purposes and that weapons ordered by Somboon are actually
stored and sold by Rattana Fireworks Ltd, a subsidiary of
Somboon.

4. Pol FSN visited Rattana Firearms Ltd (address 105 Charoen
Krung Road, Unakan Intersection, Wamb Burapha Sub-District,
Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok 10200/ Tel 02-221-4638) The
enterprise is located in a neighborhood with a number of gun
shops. Rattana has four employees and one CCTV inside the
shop and two cameras outside. There was a guard present when
Pol FSN visited but no iron grill on the front window.
There, he met Ms. Suwanna Laohaphiengsak, Manager of both the
Rattana and the Somboon Firearms companies.

5. Ms. Suwanna presented copies of her permits from the MOI
which concur with those outlined in reftel. She also
presented another set of MOI Permits set to expire on June
18, 2006 allowing the establishment/registration of Somboon
Firearms Ltd. and permission to sell firearms. Ms. Suwanna
confirmed the accuracy of the business registration at the
Thai Ministry of Commerce outlined above and the Somboon
Firearms purchase/import order No. D035/05 SW signed by her
on July 27, 2005, prepared by Smith and Wesson's distributor
in Thailand, the Louis T. Leonowens Co., Ltd.

6. Ms. Suwanna related that she and her seven brothers and
sisters altogether own 32 gun shops, including Somboon, and
that each shop is allowed to sell 30 pistols/revolvers, 50
rifles, and various types of ammunition to total about 50,000
rounds annually.

7. Other questions raised in reftel:

How long has the company been in business and who are its
principles?

The Somboon Firearms Ltd. has been in business since 1975,
but Ms. Suwanna's family has been in the gun business for
over 50 years. Principles are listed above, all members of
the same family.

Who are its typical customers and where are they located?
Thai citizens -- civilians, police, soldiers, state
officials. Before buying a gun, a customer must obtain a
license to purchase a weapon from the MOI's Gun Registration
Section and pass a background check.

Does the company have an established, legitimate customer
base to which it plans to sell these firearms.

Any Thai citizen with the appropriate license may purchase
from Somboon.

Does the company keep proper, detailed records?

Yes. All licenses and records of buyers and guns sold are
well documented both at the shop and at MOI. These are kept
in hard copy only (not computerized).

Does the company understand the restrictions of the USML
articles?

Ms. Suwanna seemed well versed in the restrictions. She
noted that Thailand's own gun regulations are strict and that
any foreigner wishing to buy a gun must have the a Residence
Permit and his Embassy's approval in addition to the
requirements outlined for Thai nationals.
BOYCE

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