Authorities 'remain in touch' with Thai counterparts on request for StanChart robbery suspect's return to Singapore

David James Roach, who pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges but not StanChart robbery, in the Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday (June 6).
David James Roach, who pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges but not StanChart robbery, in the Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday (June 6).PHOTO: BANGKOK POST

SINGAPORE -Local authorities remain in touch with their Thai counterparts over their request for the return of a Canadian man linked to a bank robbery here.

David James Roach, 28, was on Tuesday (June 6) sentenced to 14 months' jail in Thailand for violating money laundering and customs laws by bringing the loot into the country. Travellers going in and out of Thailand are required to declare to Customs if they have more than US$20,000 (S$27,600) or its equivalent in their possession.

However, Thai media reports quoted Roach's lawyer as saying that the Canadian admitted only to smuggling currency to Thailand, but not to the Singapore robbery.

The Singapore authorities had previously written to the Thai government seeking assistance to repatriate the Canadian. Thailand, however, rejected the request as it does not have any extradition treaty with Singapore.

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The Singapore police told The Straits Times on Wednesday in response to queries: "The Singapore authorities remain in touch with the Thai authorities on our request for David James Roach's return and the return of seized evidence to Singapore.

"In the event of his return, the criminal justice process will take its course."

Roach had allegedly carried out the first successful bank robbery in Singapore in more than a decade.

On July 7 last year at around 11.30am, Roach allegedly walked into a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Holland Village wearing a hoodie and cap. He allegedly handed the teller a slip of paper with his demands and slipped away with about $30,000 - all in just a matter of minutes.

The authorities combed the area for the suspect, but Roach, who had purchased an air ticket to Thailand earlier, was believed to have taken a cab to Changi Airport.

He arrived in Bangkok at 5pm, and by evening had checked into a shared dormitory room at the Boxpackers Hostel in the popular Ratchathewi district. On July 9, he was nabbed by the Royal Thai Police, who had zeroed in on Roach using closed-circuit television cameras in the area.

Roach has been held in a Bangkok jail since his arrest.

Most of the $30,000 cash he allegedly took was recovered by Thai police, as well as a notebook detailing his escape plan, including stopovers in Chiang Mai and Dubai.

The Thai criminal court said on Tuesday: "The suspect confessed to all charges during the investigation process."

Roach was sentenced to a year in jail for money laundering, four months for violating the Foreign Exchange Act and another year for not declaring he was carrying more than US$20,000 equivalent.

His sentence was halved because he had confessed. The money found on him had also been seized.