Companies under scrutiny over use of Thai nominees

Companies under scrutiny over use of Thai nominees

A backhoe demolishes the steps leading to a villa on Yamu beach in Thalang district of Phuket on March 5 after an investigation found the steps were built on public land. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
A backhoe demolishes the steps leading to a villa on Yamu beach in Thalang district of Phuket on March 5 after an investigation found the steps were built on public land. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

Nine companies in Phuket will be investigated for the suspected use of Thai nominees to skirt labour regulations which restrict certain businesses to Thai citizens, according to the Department of Special Investigation.

One of the nine establishments that will be scrutinised is Green Elephant Sanctuary Park, operated by Urs Fehr -- the 45-year-old Swiss man who allegedly assaulted a female doctor outside his rented villa on Yamu beach in Thalang district last month.

Even though a preliminary inspection carried out yesterday found the companies are abiding by the law which allows no more than 49% of shares in a registered Thai company to be held by foreigners, Pol Maj Yutthana Praedam, acting DSI director-general, said on Thursday a further inspection will be conducted to prove the Thai shareholders aren't mere nominees.

In addition, these companies will also be examined by other state agencies to determine whether they have all the licences required to operate their businesses, such as tour guide services, he said.

Other agencies working together with the DSI on this task include the Department of Business Development, the Department of Tourism, the Immigration Bureau and the Tourist Police Bureau.

In another development, authorities are looking into irregularities in the issuance of land title deeds for plots located along Yamu beach, said a source.

The source said aerial surveys of the area showed no signs of prior agricultural cultivation in the area, which was cited as the reason for the issuance of Sor Khor 1 land occupation documents back in 1974. The titles were later upgraded to Nor Sor 3 Kor certificates in 2005, according to the source.

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