A Japanese businessman may have fathered up to 15 children using Thai surrogates, 12 of whom remain in Thailand, police have said.
Paternity testing showed that the man, who had provided a DNA sample in an effort to clear his name, was a positive match with 12 children in Thailand. He is also suspected of fathering a further three children who are now believed to be in other countries.
The story has been growing since Thai authorities discovered nine babies in a flat in Bangkok over two weeks ago. It was reported that neighbours had been complaining about the sound of crying infants and contacted the police over human trafficking concerns. When the police turned up, they also found a pregnant 20-year-old woman. The children were, the Daily Telegraph said, aged between one month and two years old.
Police then tracked down other children he is suspected to have fathered and tested 15 children against his DNA. 'It is confirmed that he is the father of all the babies - the 15 babies that we checked', Thai police doctor, Lieutenant General Jongjate Aojanepong, told news agency AFP last Wednesday. He is no longer in Thailand and has not yet been charged with any criminal offence.
Media reports suggested the 24-year-old suspect is the son of an IT millionaire who wanted a large family to whom he could pass down the business. Initially, he denied the children were his.
Seven nannies were also in the flat - dubbed the 'baby factory' by the press. Thai health officials told the Daily Telegraph they were being paid around £184 a month to look after the children.
Despite the case being publicised amid the Thai Government's attempts to crack down on surrogacy (see BioNews 767) and also human trafficking, the police have so far found no evidence to suggest the father was planning on passing the children on.
'From our checks of the living conditions of the babies, so far there has not been any abuse or involvement in human trafficking or unlawful use of the babies', Aojanepong told AFP. The Straits Times also reports that the mothers of the 15 babies did not use their own eggs.
Thailand is a popular destination for foreigners seeking surrogacy services and has been centre of another highly publicised case involving allegations made around an Australian couple and their Thai surrogate-born child, known as Gammy (see BioNews 765). Thailand's military government in May passed a draft law making commercial surrogacy illegal.