Ombudsmen Siracha Charoenpanij claims foreigners are using "nominee" arrangements to circumvent Thai law prohibitions on foreign land ownership (discussed here), and has drafted what the the Bangkok Post calls a "Draconian" law to address this issue. Khun Siracha says the new law will take a "carrot-and-stick" approach to this issue by "includ[ing] a reward to anyone providing information about foreigners owning land through nominees" and deporting foreigners found guilty of holding land in Thailand illegally. There doesn't seem to be any carrots in this proposed new law for foreigners.
One serious problem that seems to have escaped discussion about this proposed new law is the fundamental uncertainty surrounding the concept of "nominees" in Thailand. What is a nominee under Thai law?
There is nothing close to a clear and agreed answer to this basic question. And this is particularly troubling when a new law may criminalize arrangements that were legal or arguably legal under prior law. If a change of the law leads to or appears to lead to the compulsory divestiture or expropriation of property, this will obviously damage Thailand's reputation for foreign investment. It may also trigger problems under Thailand's international treaty obligations. A similar problem occurred several years ago when there was a proposal to make the Foreign Business Act more restrictive, as discussed in this article.
The Thai Ombudsmen will submit the draft parliament this year, and we will continue to monitor any developments.