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Phuket police raid Russian ‘owned’ businesses in Thai company crackdown

PHOTO: Google Maps

Police in Phuket have raided a number of Russian-owned firms accused of using Thai nominees. The raids were conducted by officers from the Provincial Police Region 8, under the direction of Suraphong Thanomchit, and accompanied by various other police teams and immigration officers.

One of the premises raided was the Octopus restaurant in the northern sub-district of Cherngtalay, where it was discovered that Thai national Punyanuch Thongkob was listed as holding 51% of the shares. It was subsequently discovered that Ms Punyanuch is only a nominee and the real owner is Vladilav Zinakov, a Russian national with 24.5% of the shares.

A third person, Pavel Shapovalov, worked in a financial management capacity, circulating funds of 80 million baht. A fourth person, named in a Khaosod English report as Mr Valerie, is accused of being an “alien collaborating to manage a business that Thais are unprepared to enter without authorisation.”

On the same day, another 8 locations across Phuket were raided by officers from the Crime Suppression Division. The raids were part of an investigation into a man who claimed to be a regional electricity official and would trick people into installing an app that gave him access to their phones. He would then hack into their bank accounts and is accused of transferring 500,000 baht to a Russian man.

Investigating officers discovered that the Russian in question had also received a number of crypto transfers, which he would sell. He would then transfer the proceeds to his Thai bank account and immediately withdraw the cash. In total, he is accused of withdrawing 186 million baht from various banks and ATMs between July 7 and November 19 last year. Due to the amount of money involved, he is suspected to be involved in money laundering.

According to the report, that man held a work permit for a company in Phuket but when officers raided the company, they found it was not operating. The company had in fact been set up to create fraudulent paperwork for foreigners to use in order to get a work permit and permission to remain in Thailand.

The company directors and shareholders were 2 Thai women and a Russian woman. All 3 are shareholders and directors in a total of 38 other companies and the authorities suspect their involvement in a number of crimes committed by foreign nationals.

It’s understood both Thai women have admitted to setting up the fake company in order to register other businesses and apply for work permits and visas for foreigners.

During the raid, officers seized equipment used to take fake “work photographs” for foreigners applying for work permits and visas. They also seized 2 computers used to falsify paperwork and to store customer data, along with more than 50 company stamps and around 500 documents.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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