Property crackdown: Chinese national, ‘Thai nominees’ arrested in Chiang Mai
Three Thais and one Chinese national have been arrested in Chiang Mai for alleged involvement in a foreign-owned company suspected of using Thai nominees to operate a property business, which is reserved for Thai nationals.
Deputy national police chief General Surachate Hakparn said the suspects were arrested on Wednesday in connection with a housing estate in the northern city’s San Kamphaeng district.
The project has 195 housing units priced between 5 million and 11 million baht and is marketed to Chinese buyers.
Earlier, Surachate met with local officials to discuss evidence that Chinese investors are purchasing large numbers of land plots throughout Chiang Mai province – with the help of Thai nominees – to build housing projects, shops, companies, and private schools.
An investigation found at least one foreign-controlled company was using Thai nominees, police said, adding that arrest warrants were issued for three Chinese nationals and four Thais suspected of being involved in the illegal company. They did not disclose the company’s name.
Police identified the Chinese suspect as Li Qingfang. The alleged Thai nominees were identified by their given names only: Parichart, Manas, and Sanchai. Parichart and Manas are Chiang Mai natives, while Sanchai is a resident of Chiang Rai, police said.
Surachate said Parichart served as Li’s nominee for registering the property company, which owns a housing estate raided by police, police said.
Manas and Sanchai – registered as the company’s shareholders and board members – allowed themselves to be used as nominees for the Chinese nationals who allegedly own the company, Surachate said.
Two other Chinese nationals wanted in connection with this case have fled Thailand, while the fourth remains at large, police said.
Police will examine the financial records of the Chinese suspects and their alleged nominees to determine if they laundered money, Surachate said. The suspects’ assets will be confiscated and they will face further legal action if money laundering occurred, Surachate said.
Authorities are investigating housing projects in Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong, San Sai and San Kamphaeng districts to determine whether Chinese nationals used Thai nominees to operate the companies behind them, police said.