Sunday, 3rd February 2013
THAI WITCH HUNT ON FOREIGN OWNED BUSINESSES – Writing and article is one thing. Getting people to read it is another and actually getting people to stop doing something that are detrimental to their well-being and wealth is another entirely different matter.
The truth is that most people don’t want the truth or they personally feel they are way smarter than those in the know and can overcome pretty much any obstacle.
For many business in Phuket, Thailand that are owned by foreigners, these people are going to wish they had listen to common sense as they are about to lose everything they have paid and worked for.
Right now there is a xenophobic witch hunt by the Thai authorities; which has been brought about by the recent Thai Taxi Mafia blockading the streets in protest that a number of Russians have set up Taxi companies and are luring customers away by offering a far superior level of service, that is they are not trying to drive at 130 mph, and at a cheaper price, that is they are not ripping off their customers with prices that are over ten times that levied in Bangkok as the Thai Taxi Mafia does.
Yes, OK, let’s agree that government, in poorer countries, should protect their citizens by ensuring that some occupations are off limits. Now that notion would be an admirable one, except Thailand is not a poor country. Agreed, most Thais live in appalling condition, in slums and are poor, but that’s only because Thailand is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The wealth simply does not trickle down, instead very greedy and corrupt politicians ensure that the average Thai sees very little of the wealth.
As I write this the Director of Phuket’s Department of Business Development has announced that he is going to undertake over 100 investigations into foreign owned businesses to see if they comply fully with the law. Most of the businesses being targeted are Dive Shops, Tour Operators, Bars and Restaurants; which pretty much covers most foreign run businesses.
To comply with the law you must first have a Thai Company. This must be step up so that you have Thai Directors onboard, with a minimum shareholding of 51% – that’s right the Thais expect foreigners to plough in all the money but the Thais, and knowing how corrupt they are, must own 51%. I can tell you that almost foreigner is going to hand over 51% of their assets to a Thai and so most form a Thai Nominee Company, which shows Thai Shareholder that actually exist but do not actually have the 51% stake in the company. This all may see a little confusing but it’s simply the way things are done in Thailand.
With this pending witch hunt, and if it does go ahead, then hundreds, if not thousands of foreign business owners, who support Thailand by paying their taxes (something that Thais rarely do) and supporting their Thai families are about to lose everything.
How bad is the xenophobia that Thais have with foreigners? Let’s take the recent fraudulent acquisition and use of land.
It wasn’t that long ago that a group of Thai villagers complained that a large resort was being built on government owned protected forestry. The resort is owned by some very wealthy and powerful Thais. The government sent down a team of agents to investigate and it went from one case to fourteen in a matter of a week. It was established that the acquired land was in fact done so illegally. A former Governor of Phuket basically forged documents and signed off the land title deeds to his friends, for a hefty fee.
While the investigation were going on the resort owner did not stop building and insisted that nothing would come out of the investigation – he was both right and wrong.
He was right because his case and 12 others were dropped mysteriously while only one remained – a rather nice house owned by a Frenchman. The authorities pursued him and it was found that the same Governor was responsible, unbeknown to the Frenchman, for the forging of documents for a Thai friend who built the property and then sold it to the Frenchman for nearly US$3.5m.
The Frenchman did lose his home, but not without issuing a write against the Thai government. It was after all a Thai Government Official that had signed off on the paperwork and therefore is argument is that if you can’t trust the Government to issue legal land documents who can you trust. The case is still ongoing but it is unlikely the Frenchman will ever see his property or money back.
In my years of living in Phuket I have seen hundreds of foreigners come, setup a business or buy a home, get ripped off and leave with nothing and yet, as widely documented as this is, foreigner still come here and do exactly the same thing.
For once in your life, don’t think you are smarter than someone else. Listen to this advice carefully and protect your wealth…
If you must come to Thailand, and I would urge you not too, considering the Thais engage in the despicable act of human trafficking of Rohingya children and other human rights abuses, then come and go:
Do not consider living here
Do not consider buying a home here – you cannot own what you buy period!
Do not consider starting and operating a business here – you cannot own a business legally unless you give 51% of it to Thai; and you WILL get ripped off.
Do NOT, for one second, be fooled by the Thai smile. Beneath the smile is a scheming, lying thief who will happily have you murdered so he/she can get their hands on your assets.
Listen to this or not, the choice is yours, but if you fail to heed the warnings here, it will cost you everything you own and worse it could cost you your life.