Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Thailand's private eye blows alibis

DPA , BANGKOK

Amnoyporn Maneewan, Thailand's foremost female private eye at work in one of Bangkok's notorious ``girlie bar'' areas in Bangkok, on Thursday. Earlier this year she published a book, ``They Had Me to Spy on Cheating Husbands,'' about her 10-year career as a private eye, specializing in cases involving infidelity.

PHOTO: EPA

Amnoyporn Maneewan's reputation as Thailand's foremost female private eye sometimes blows her cover nowadays.

"I was recently tailing a woman and she turned and recognized me and said, `Oh, I like what you do so much,'" Amnoyporn recalled. "I told her I was just out shopping and we started chatting away until finally she said, `Hey, you aren't spying on me are you?' but by that time I had it all on tape."

Amnoyporn, 38, who earlier this year published a book titled They Had Me to Spy on Cheating Husbands about her 10-year career as a private eye for Decha & IBS Ltd, is bringing the usually secretive world of spying out into the open in Thailand, where the majority of cases involve infidelity. The book launch has brought Amnoyporn, and her company Decha & IBS, a good deal of publicity in the Thai media.

Private investigators don't receive licenses in Thailand and therefore are in a bit of a legal limbo and usually low-profile. Many of Thailand-based private investigators advertise their services via the Internet, usually targeting foreign men who are feeling cheated by their Thai girlfriend or wife.

"Is your Thai husband or wife cheating on you? Find out the truth and then use the indisputable evidence we give you to get out of your disastrous marriage," boasts SiamSpy.com, with a logo featuring Humphrey Bogart in hat and trenchcoat, of course.

"Most of my cases have to do with adultery," Amnoyporn said. "When I started out in this field about 10 years ago most of the cases involved wives who suspected their husbands of having a minor wife, but after the Asian crisis in 1997 many women had to get out of the house to find work to make extra money, so now both men and women have a more equal opportunity to be unfaithful. Now my clients are 50/50 husbands and wives."

Usually Amnoyporn collects evidence to help in divorce proceedings. Under Thai law, there are only three acceptable reasons for a woman to divorce her husband, including abandonment for a minimum of three years, failure to provide financial support and adultery on condition the husband flaunts his extramarital affair in public.

"In Thailand a man can have many hidden mistresses, and this is not grounds for divorce, but if he openly flaunts one mistress as his `mia noi,' [minor wife] that's grounds for divorce," she said.

"But for a woman, if she's married and sleeps one time with another man, that's defined as adultery. The law isn't fair," she said.

Many cases don't involve married couples but only jealous lovers.

"For example, one customer was an 80-year-old man who had a 14 year-old girlfriend and he was worried that she was fooling around on him," Amnoyporn said.

While refusing to divulge the results of her investigation into this particular case, Amnoyporn said that nearly 100 percent of her investigations end up proving that adultery has taken place.

This may be a good thing, since her rates aren't cheap by Thai standards. Decha & IBS charges 6,000 baht (US$150 dollars) a day for a private investigation, at a minimum of seven days per case.

The company now has more than 20 private eyes, under Amnoyporn's management. Initially Decha & IBS specialized in debt collection, pursuing arrest warrants and investigating debtors' assets, activities that Amnoyporn found tedious.

Ten years ago the company put up its "private eye" sign after Amnoyporn started taking in more and more infidelity cases.

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