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Authorities in Phuket Arrest 98 Foreigners in Company Nominee Crackdown



Thai nominees Phuket
Phuket Police question a Thai woman: Post Image

The  Central Investigation Bureau police detained over 90 Russians in Phuket, Thailand during a crackdown on nominee companies, with assets valued at more than 1.5 billion baht taken.

Part of the operation, Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) commissioner Pol Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej said on Friday, police from the Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECSD) searched accounting and real estate companies in the island province.

There are currently charges pending against 135 people and 96 juristic people.

Pol Gen Jirabhop stated of the people, 37 Thais served as nominees for foreign firms and 98 foreign nationals, the majority of them being Russians. The people were subsequently released on bond.

The foreign suspects were accused of operating companies by eschewing or breaking the law, and of having Thais or other non-foreign nationals assist or co-run companies that foreigners were not authorized to operate.

Pol Gen Jirabhop charged the Thai suspects with providing assistance or support to foreign nationals operating enterprises without the necessary legal authorization.

Russian businesses Phuket

Land and Assets in Phuket

Along with 196 passports, 108 work permits, documents pertaining to the formation of 800 companies, 1,601 company stamps, four electronic devices, and other items, seized during the crackdown were 225 bank accounts with 319 million baht in circulation, 245 land documents.

Including those for 96 condominium units worth about 1 billion baht and 43 title deeds covering 24 rai of land worth about 200 million baht. Police estimated the assets taken were worth more than 1.5 billion baht.

When locals protested to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin that foreign nationals—mostly Russians—had been operating enterprises and purchasing a lot of residential properties and land plots at astronomically high rates, the police operation was started.

According to Pol Gen Jirabhop, one of the activities that cost Thais jobs and harmed the economy was the operation of tour-related companies owned by foreign nationals.

The prime minister next gave acting national police commander Kitrat Panphet instructions to designate the appropriate agencies to look into the matter.

An inquiry by the CIB’s ECSD later revealed that, since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in early 2022, 59,717 Russian nationals had entered Phuket. They reported an incredibly high 1,603 new company registrations in the province.

ECSD commander Pol Maj Gen Phutthidet Boonkraphue cited instances of companies involving a single foreign woman, solely named Iana, 45.

She was discovered to be an executive and shareholder in nine companies, with a 38 million baht total registered capital: seven real estate companies, one service company, and one tour company.

Corruption Phuket

Fake Company Nominees

The chief of ECSD said that the firms were occupying three opulent apartment and condominium developments valued at more than 900 million baht.

The detectives discovered that Ms. Iana was nominated by a Thai woman going by the name Trithip. Additionally discovered to be nominees for 272 companies were Ms. Trithip and other Thai citizens. There were Thai shareholders solely in 142, and both Thai and international shareholders were present in the others.

Later, Pol Maj Gen Phutthidet stated, the detectives collected evidence to ask the court for permission to arrest people engaged in nominee businesses.

Ms. Trithip acknowledged under inquiry that she was employed to act as a nominee for 30,000 to 50,000 baht each company.

Pol Maj Gen Phutthidet reported that 85 foreign nationals had already received summonses from the investigators to answer allegations of exploiting Thai nominees. He said that the probe is being continued.

Russians looking for sun and water have come to love Phuket. The island’s mild weather and laid-back way of life appeal to many. Russian visitors and residents can be seen frequently taking advantage of the lively nightlife and stunning beaches.

Some of them have even launched their own companies, which boosts the local economy. Growing Russian population in Phuket is fostering a little but active cross-cultural interaction. Even though Phuket is far from home, its kind people and wide range of activities provide them comfort.

Source: Bangkok Post

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