The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has announced a New Year campaign to crack down on foreigners using Thai nominees to buy tracts of land and to circumvent labour laws which preclude them from operating certain businesses. DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said that some foreign gangsters had illegally bought swathes of land in Samui, Pattaya and other cities which encroached on forestland and which were intended to host illegal buildings or enterprises.
But he stressed that foreigners operating within the law had nothing to fear. There was evidence, continued Tharit, that a small number of foreigners were extorting money from other foreigners as well as bringing prostitutes into the kingdom. DSI would particularly be examining dubious enterprises where foreigners were transferring clients’ cash offshore.
Tharit stated that a small number of foreigners were running businesses from which they were precluded under the Foreign Business Act 1999, including logging and some forms of property development and of the media. Now that Thailand was preparing to enter the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, it was vital that DSI become involved in cleaning up areas of business life where unscrupulous foreigners had taken advantage of weak law enforcement in the past. Recently, a group of foreigners who felt they had been cheated by a farang-controlled real estate company operating in Pattaya lodged complaints with the DSI.