Police crack down on foreign criminals

Tourists crowd old town Phuket. (File photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Tourists crowd old town Phuket. (File photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

Authorities are ramping up their crackdown on foreign criminals who arrive as tourists and use Thailand as their base for crimes.

The government has instructed the Royal Thai Police and the Interior Ministry to take measures to deal with the problem, particularly in Phuket. Phuket police have set up a task force to crack down on these foreign criminals.

Authorities are concerned about foreign criminals who disguise themselves as tourists, as well as foreigners who use Thais as business nominees to skirt rules that restrict certain businesses to Thai citizens.

A United Thai Nation (UTN) Party list MP said he has received complaints from locals in Phuket that many foreigners are taking jobs reserved for Thais.

He said some foreigners are hiring Thais as their business nominees to hold shares on their behalf in a company.

This arrangement typically involves Thai individuals holding 51% of shares and foreigners holding 49% to allow businesses to operate without the need for special permits, he said.

Police are investigating more than 60 companies suspected of acting as nominees for foreigners in the South, mostly in Phuket and Surat Thani.

On April 3-4, police raided 17 companies in Phuket allegedly used as business nominees by a Russian money laundering network, according to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD).

Before the raid, police investigated a Russian man suspected of being involved in money laundering.

Police said the suspect had secured his Thai visa with the help of a Thai company, adding the firm listed two Thai women and one Russian woman as registered shareholders.

The Russian man, who allegedly received cryptocurrency transfers and resold them for cash between July 7 and Nov 19 last year, withdrew 186 million baht from his three bank accounts.

Police also arrested the two Thai women who allegedly confessed to setting up bogus companies to assist visa and work permit applicants.

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