Commerce probes 329 Chon Buri, Prachuap firms for 'nominee' violations
The Commerce Ministry has found 329 companies in Chon Buri and Prachuap Khiri Khan that are suspected of breaching the Foreign Business Act (FBA) by having Thais acting as nominees so that foreigners can hold majority control.
Of the total, 303 are in Chon Buri and 26 in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Deputy Commerce Minister Natthawut Saikua said yesterday.
Of the 26 companies in Prachuap, two have confessed to the charges - a real-estate agent and a tailor.
Of the 303 companies in Chon Buri, 20 operate businesses listed in Appendix III of the FBA covering those in which Thais are not yet ready to compete with foreigners.
The Business Development Department will conduct a deeper investigation into all 303 companies by questioning their directors and examining their documentation. If any have committed offences, their cases will be forwarded to state agencies for prosecution.
The ministry is still looking at cases in three other major tourism provinces - Surat Thani, Phuket and Krabi. They expect to be finished this month and the rest of the 71 provinces will be completed this year, Natthawut said.
The probe will not discourage incoming foreign investment, he said. The ministry wants to prepare for the coming of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 when more foreign investment will pour into Thailand.
It is focusing on both small and major businesses, he added.