Dutch cannabis cafe boss jailed for 103 years in Thailand

marijuana joint closeupA Dutch national who founded a chain of cannabis cafes in Brabant has been jailed for 103 years by a court in Bangkok for money laundering.

Johan van Laarhoven, 55, will have to spend 20 years in jail because the 43 sentences can be served concurrently, news agency ANP says. The court found him guilty of laundering millions of euros in cash earned via his four cafes in Den Bosch and Tilburg.

Van Laarhoven was arrested in Thailand in 2014 along with his Thai wife. He moved to Pattaya in 2008 after 30 years in the soft drugs trade. His wife, Tukta, has been jailed for 12 years for her role in the case, the NRC reports.

The arrest was made after Dutch public prosecution officials asked colleagues in Thailand for their help. They had been investigating Van Laarhoven’s company The Grass Company since 2011.

As part of that investigation, officials were given the green light to sequester property and cash amounting to some €24m, much of which they believe had been invested in Thailand.

A Dutch justice official told the NRC in January they had not asked the Thai authorities to arrest Van Laarhoven and were only after information. ‘The arrest was their own decision,’ a spokesman said.


Van Laaren’s older brother Frans, who is also suspected of money laundering in the Netherlands, told the NRC that the Thai court has ignored evidence showing that tax was paid on every euro earned in the coffee shops.

‘He could not be prosecuted in the Netherlands and so he has been left to Thailand,’ he said. ‘My brother feels he has been abandoned by the Dutch political system and the media.’

According to the NRC, at least 10 of the Netherlands’ big cannabis cafe entrepreneurs have interests in Thailand, including Henk de Vries, founder of the Bulldog chain.

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