The owners of a Thailand-based surrogate baby agency, which has offices in Phnom Penh, were arrested Thursday in Taiwan and charged with violating the country’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, media reported Sunday.
The firm, Babe-101, is accused of profiting from illegally brokering surrogacy agreements—the practice of having a woman carry a child for another party—between Taiwanese couples and women from Thailand and Vietnam.
The China Daily newspaper reported that the suspect Lo Hsien-lung, his Thai wife and four other people were arrested.
According to Babe-101’s website, Taiwanese couples seeking children were paying $34,900 plus other expenses for surrogate mothers from Vietnam and Thailand to have a baby through their service. Though the firm has an office in Phnom Penh there has been no mention so far of Cambodian women being involved in the surrogate service.
People answering the listed telephone number at Babe-101’s Phnom Penh office claimed it was the wrong number and e-mails sent yesterday to the office seeking comment went unanswered.
Cambodian Ministry of Health Secretary of State Dr Heng Taykry said yesterday by telephone that he was unaware of any surrogacy business operating in the country.
“I’ve never heard of having a surrogate mother service open in Cambodia,” he said. “Our country doesn’t have such a law so it must be illegal if there is such an operation,” he said.
Babe-101 previously gained attention in August when a story appeared in Thai newspaper The Nation, reporting that the company was warned against doing business in Taiwan because surrogacy there is illegal.
At the time, a representative for Babe-101 said in Phnom Penh that the company set up an office here because there were no Cambodian laws about surrogacy, and the firm was exploiting that loophole. The Taiwanese representative of Babe-101 declined to give her name or the address for her office in the city.
The representative did, however, deny that any Cambodian women were taking part in their surrogate mothers program.