American Fugitive Arrested in Pattaya for Allegedly Running Illegal Property Business in Phuket and Surat Thani

PHOTO: Naewna

Pattaya —

On March 15th, 2024, a 58-year-old American national was arrested in front of a Jomtien hospital in Pattaya for alleged involvement in an illegal property trading business.

The suspect, identified only as Mr. David, has been charged with violating the Foreign Business Act for acting as an executive director of a company involved in illegal land plot transactions.

According to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the suspect and his accomplices, Mr. Marcus (British) and Mr. Paul (American), surnames withheld, had opened a law firm in both Surat Thani and Phuket provinces and then hired a Thai citizen to establish various other companies. These companies were then used to acquire stakes in businesses across Surat Thani and Phuket, which allowed them to hold land plots in the two provinces, with a Thai employee holding a majority ownership level.

According to the DSI, the suspects would transfer the shares in these companies to a foreign buyer who wanted to purchase land from them. In some cases, the companies were shut down entirely to enable the foreign customers to take ownership.

Mr. David has been accused of acting as an executive director of the company alongside Mr. Marcus and Mr. Paul. Another individual, identified only as Ms. Oksana, has also been accused of receiving share ownership from the company.

The suspects allegedly ran away after their firm was initially charged by the Thai court. As of press time, only Mr. David has been arrested. He is currently in police custody and will be handed over to the investigation officers responsible for this case. He did not immediately release a plea or statement to the allegations.

Police are hunting for the remaining suspects.

Especially in Phuket relevant officials and agencies are currently cracking down on foreigners using Thai nominees to hold or purchase land, which is against the law for foreign nationals. This stems originally from a viral case of a Swiss man allegedly kicking a Thai lady off his steps in Phuket, but the steps were later found to be encroaching on a public beach. As a result, there was increased scrutiny on land ownership and encroachment across Phuket.

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Aim Tanakorn
The local news translator at The Pattaya News. Aim is a twenty-four year old who currently lives in Bangkok. Interested in English translation, story-telling, and entrepreneurship, he believes that hard-working is an indispensable component of every success in this world.