17 suspected aliens-owned companies in Phuket and Phang-nga raided

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Seventeen tourism-related companies in Phuket and Phang-nga which were suspected of being owned by alien businessmen using Thais as their nominees have been raided by officials from Business Development and Revenue departments, army and tourist police.

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Mr Saroj Suwatthikul, deputy director-general of Business Development Department, told the media on Friday that, during the raids, two Chinese businessmen were found to have obtained Thai ID cards under the names of Mr Veerachai Kampaiprapankul and Mr Kritchakorn Rungmongkolnam who operated tourism business in Phuket.

One of them, Mr Kritchakorn, has been arrested, said Mr Saroj.

In-depth investigation shows that the two Chinese were connected with the 17 tourism-related companies – 15 in Phuket and two in Phang-nga – under suspicion of actually being owned and run by alien businessmen.

Mr Saroj said that charges had been lodged against the two Chinese and a probe is under way about how they obtained their Thai ID cards in Chiang Rai.

He added that, initially, the department ordered a complete halt of all registration works of the 17 companies, for instances the registration of the change of board directors pending a probe whether the directors knew they were used as nominees of the aliens.

He went on saying the withdrawal of the operating licenses of the companies had to wait until the completion of the investigation into the setting up of the companies and their registrations.

Thai nationals who willingly help the aliens in operating businesses reserved for Thais by serving as their nominees face a jailterm of up to three years and/or a fine from 100,000 baht to one million baht.