Illegal Chinese investment suspected in 6 Chiang Mai property projects
Police have begun cracking down on Chinese investment groups using Thai nominees to buy real estate in Chiang Mai.
Initial investigations uncovered six plots of land in the northern province suspected of being bought illegally by Chinese investors to build complexes, Deputy National Police chief General Surachet Hakparn told reporters on Wednesday.
Surachet spoke after meeting with officials from the provincial land office, immigration police, and local administration organisations following allegations that Chiang Mai land and real estate is being bought by Chinese companies using Thai nominees to avoid taxation under the Foreign Business Act of 1999.
“We discovered that these plots had been bought to build complexes for Chinese residents and education institutes, to grant student visas for Chinese migrants,” he said.
Police were now investigating the buyers’ financial and tax records, he added.
Surachet is overseeing a separate investigation into Chinese and other foreign criminals paying for student and volunteer visas so they can operate in Thailand. A total of 110 immigration officials including three police generals are suspected of involvement in issuing illegal student/volunteer visas to Chinese nationals.
The Real Estate Trade Association of Chiang Mai reported last month that Chinese investment groups registered with Thai nominees have been buying up properties in luxury housing projects and then selling them to Chinese nationals for profit. Since these companies are 100% Chinese-owned and perform transactions online or in China, they do not generate any income for the Thai government, it said.
Chinese nationals now own around 1,000 properties worth at least 3 million baht in the city, accounting for a total 5 billion baht of real estate, the association said.
Districts popular with Chinese buyers are Hang Dong, San Kamphaeng, San Sai, and Mae Rim, according to the association’s survey.
Police warn that any company caught using nominee shareholders faces a fine of up to 1 million baht, plus 50,000 baht per day until the issue is fixed. The company’s director and nominees are also punishable by a maximum fine of 1 million baht, up to three years in prison, or both.