Japanese in Thai surrogacy scandal wants 20 babies to run business empire: Lawyer

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Japanese man who fathered 12 babies through Thai surrogates has declared assets worth over 4 billion baht (S$157 million) and he wants children to take care of his family businesses, his lawyer has told Thai police.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, 24, has also earned 80 million baht (S$3.14 million) a year from dividends alone, according to his lawyer Kong Suriyamonthon.

Assistant National Police Commissioner Lt-General Korkiat Wongworachat met with Kong on Tuesday and received documents that show Shigeta is from a very wealthy family.

"His parents know about his surrogacy children," Kong said, adding that the Japanese hoped to have up to 20 children. The lawyer said Shigeta wanted to take care of all his children and would take necessary steps to do this.

Korkiat said based on available information, Shigeta's activities did not constitute human trafficking.

"He doesn't need to meet investigators here. But if he comes, he will clear public doubts about him," the senior police officer said.

The Japanese man left Thailand after the scandal broke out but voluntarily sent his DNA samples to Thai authorities to try to clear his name.

Meanwhile, an informed source disclosed that Kong had taken a surrogate mother hired by Shigeta out of a Chiang Rai hospital, where she gave birth to a girl on September 2. The 24-year-old woman, according to the source, got 300,000 baht for her surrogacy services.

The other person implicated in the scandal was Dr Pisit Tantiwattanakul, owner of the All IVF clinic where Shigeta received surrogacy services. He turned himself in to police on Tuesday, the final deadline for him to answer to a police summon.

"I have not done anything wrong. I wish to plead for empathy from society," Pisit said as he showed up at Lumpini Police Station. He said he had studied Assisted Reproductive Technology in Australia and had operated his All IVF clinic with a proper licence.

Police have charged Pisit with failing to ensure that services provided at his All IVF Clinic complied with laws about medical practice. He was also accused of operating the clinic without a proper licence.

His clinic caught the authorities' attention after evidence emerged suggesting that Shigeta had used All IVF services to father more than 10 babies through Thai surrogates.

Thailand does not have a specific law to govern surrogacy services. However, the Medical Council has strictly banned the use of commercially-paid surrogate mothers.

According to an ongoing investigation, Shigeta has paid many Thai women for surrogacy services and taken away the babies.

Pisit said he had not turned himself in earlier because he needed time to prepare his defence and he also had to care for his father who has cancer.

"I will let my lawyer handle the legal proceedings," he said.

His lawyer Rungroj Dijbanjong said he would produce documents later on to support Pisit's claim |that the All IVF clinic had operated with a proper licence.