2 Finns arrested in illegal foreigner crackdown

Two Finns along with other 10 foreigners were arrested on Jan 31 in Phuket for working illegally in the island’s tourism industry, a local newspaper reports.

An Anti-Russian business banner at the protest in Phuket. Photo: The Bangkok Post

The two Finnish nationals whose real identities were not revealed by the police got busted in a crackdown that was prompted by a protest on Jan 28 by Thai businesspeople claiming illegal foreign businesses, many of them allegedly run by Russians, were undercutting the market.

Their arrests came as Maj Gen Choti Chavalviwat, Commander of Phuket Provincial Police, announced an investigation into tour agencies, massage parlous and restaurants, as well as other businesses which are foreign owned or employ many foreign staff.

The Department of Labour, in conjunction with Phuket Immigration and the Phuket Police, started checking companies based on random checks or tip-offs from the public.

The main focus will be on businesses that are foreign owned or operated, but Thai businesses that employ large numbers of foreigners will also be checked.

The two Finns were released on bail and are now waiting for the court trial, a Phuket reporter told ScandAsia.

Illegal workers

12 foreigners including people from Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the UK were arrested for either not having a work permit, or doing a different job to what their work permit states.

Many were working in the tour industry as tour guides, taxi drivers or masseurs, police said. Their cases have been referred to the Phuket Provincial Court.

Maj Gen Choti Chavalviwat, Commander of Phuket Provincial Police. Photo: The Phuket News
Maj Gen Choti Chavalviwat, Commander of Phuket Provincial Police. Photo: The Phuket News

“I understand that foreigners want to work in Phuket, but they have to work correctly,” Gen Choti told The Phuket News.

Gen Choti said the officials were also checking Thai shareholders in foreign-run companies. Thai people listed as shareholders might need to show they genuinely had enough money to have been able to have invested in the company.

“The Bang Tao mob were very angry, and it is their rights to be angry,” Gen Choti said.

“Russians coming to travel is fine, but if they take Thai people’s careers and livelihoods by working illegally, that is not fair to the Thai people.

“Foreigners who live and work here have to show us their work permit if we do a check. If they have the correct permit, it is not a problem.”

Source: The Phuket News

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