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Pattaya police arrest American for alleged dodgy property deals

PHOTO: The Department of Special Investigation

Police in Pattaya have arrested a US national, wanted for allegedly running an illegal property business in Phuket and Surat Thani provinces.

The 58 year old suspect, named only as “Mr David”, was detained in front of a hospital in the Jomtien area in south Pattaya. He has been charged with violating the Foreign Business Act by running an illegal property trading business.

The Department of Special Investigation says Mr David had two accomplices, named only as “Mr Paul”, a fellow American, and “Mr Marcus”, a British national. It’s understood the trio had set up a law firm in both Phuket and Surat Thani, and hired a Thai national, a “Ms Oksana”, to open a number of other companies.

They then used these companies to purchase stakes in various Phuket and Surat Thani businesses, which made it possible for them to hold plots of land in both provinces, with the Thai citizen being the majority shareholder.

The men are accused of transferring the shares in their companies to a foreign national who wanted to buy land from them. The DSI says that in some instances, the firms were completely shut down in order to allow foreign buyers to take over possession.

It’s understood that after their company was charged by a Thai court, the 3 men absconded. Mr David is the only one to have been arrested so far and he remains in custody awaiting prosecution. Meanwhile, the authorities are still hunting his two accomplices.

There has been a crackdown on foreign law-breakers in recent weeks, with a focus on the use of Thai nominees to purchase land. The matter came to light during an investigation into illegally constructed steps at a Phuket villa rented by a Swiss national accused of assaulting a female doctor.

The steps were later found to be encroaching on a public beach and have since been demolished. However, the case triggered a wider investigation into land ownership and potential cases of encroachment across the island.

SOURCE: The Phuket Express

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