The Thai press (here and here) is reporting that three offices of a regional law firm were raided by the Thai Department of Special Investigations and other agencies on 15 August 2018 in connection with the alleged use of nominees to own land and to operate restricted businesses under the Foreign Business Act.
Foreigners are generally prohibited from owning land in Thailand. There are some exceptions, but it is often not easy to meet the requirements for those exceptions. Some foreign parties therefore try to by-pass these legal restrictions by using so- called “nominee structures”. There is debate about what constitutes an illegal nominee under Thai law. In addition, foreign investment is generally controlled by a range of legislation, cabinet policies, trade association regulations, laws and other controls. Criminal penalties potentially apply for violating some of these controls and laws. A broad, high level summary of those restrictions can be found here.
As more information becomes available and the implications of these raids to the foreign business community become clearer, we will endeavor to post the details on our site.