Thai court convicts Dutch man of money laundering on appeal; prison sentence lowered to 75 years


A Thai court on appeal convicted former coffeeshop owner Johan van Laarhoven of laundering money made by the sale of soft drugs in the Netherlands. The court did lower his prison sentence from 103 years to 75 years. In practice this still means the Dutch man will spend 20 years in a Thai prison, his lawyer Tim Vis said to

The court also lowered the prison sentence for Van Laarhoven's wife, from 12 years to seven years and four months. She was convicted of investing income from coffeeshops in the Netherlands in Thailand, according to the newspaper. 

The Thai court's ruling was partly based on statements made by the Dutch Public Prosecutor and Dutch police officers in 2014 and 2015. But according to lawyer Vis, hearings in the civil proceedings ongoing in the Netherlands revealed that these statements are incomplete. For example, suspicions that where never proved were presented as proven crimes to the Thai court. 

Van Laarhoven's lawyers are urging the Dutch government to file an extradition request with Thailand. According to them, treaties between the two countries mean that Thailand will not refuse the request. "The Dutch state acted very carelessly in this case on all fronts", Vis said. "The state now has the duty to put in some effort for its Dutch citizen. Now that the ruling in the appeal case is done, there is no reason to postpone the extradition."

Van Laarhoven is the founder of Noord-Brabant coffeeshop chain The Grass Company. In the Netherlands the chain is suspected of money laundering, counterfeiting and fraud. Van Laarhoven took the proceeds of his company and moved to Thailand. He was arrested there in 2014, based on information received from the Dutch Public Prosecutor. 

The Tilburg man filed a lawsuit against the Dutch state. According to Van Laarhoven, he is the victim of careless action by Dutch authorities. The case is currently ongoing, with witnesses being questioned.