Danish expat businessman Preben Pretzmann, has been living in Thailand for 16 years. He established FBI Real Estate in Udon Thani when he came to Thailand in 2000 and has been directing it since. Now issues related to his visa is forcing him to close the business, he claims. According to Preben Pretzmann, the Immigration Offices has given no explanation to the problem.
According to Preben Pretzmann he has been battling to get a new business visa in place for one and a half year and every month they provided him with a visa only lasting for a few months or refused him.
Contacted by ScandAsia, the Immigration Offices in Udon Thani says they do not comment on individual cases, furthermore they asked ScandAsia to encourage Preben Pretzmann to “come by tomorrow with passport, papers and work permit.”
“But that’s what I’ve done the latest 14-15 months,” Preben Pretzmann comments.
The challenges started with a strange inquiry by a Detective from the Immigration Office, Preben Pretzmann says when he lays out his view on the case:
“He asked me to change my company sign which I have had for 16 years since the company opened. I found the request odd but followed it anyway. When he returned he wasn’t happy with the new sign either, so he asked me to changes it once again. So I did. Once again he came back to register the changes but still he wasn’t satisfied. Now he suggested me to change the orange signature colour for FBI to blue, but I told him no”.
The strange situations continues, Preben Pretzmann says. When opening FBI 16 years ago, Preben Pretzmann did so with his back then Thai wife, which meant they could start up the company with only 1 million baht, according to Thai law. But this year the authorities were suspicious about it.
“Most companies start up with 2 million baht or so, so suddenly I had to do the same. Which meant I had to raise 1 million extra really quick, which I did,” Preben Pretzmann recalls.
Since then, the latest 14-15 months, Immigration and Labour Offices have kept Preben Pretzmann on hold with unclear bureaucratic, he says, demanding submissions and reports which he has never been ask for before. He delivers the papers, pays for 1 years business visa but only gets 1 months. At other times he gets a rejection from the office in Bangkok and must leave for Laos to get a new business visa lasting maximum 3 months, Preben Pretzmann recalls.
“This is not a sustainable way to run a company. When a customer asks to visit an estate in two weeks, I’ll have to say “yes okay, but I’m not sure, if I have a visa at that point” and that is not long lasting in the end”, he says. Finally he gave up. On the 29th February his business visa expired. He has now gotten a 3 month business visa from Vientiane, so he can close the company in a prober way, he says. He’ll stay in Undo Thani on a retirement visa in the future.
Tuesday 8th March Preben Pretzmann shared a statement on the companies website officially announcing that FBI was closed. The full length statement: