Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikua said today that random checks by the Business Development Department found the 22 companies – 20 in Chonburi and two in Prachuap Khiri Khan – had breached the law by having Thai citizens holding shares in proxy for them.
The Foreign Business Act limits non-Thai ownership in a business operation in the kingdom at 49 per cent.
Mr Nattawut said the 53 Thais and foreigners in the 22 companies are in large- and small-sized real estate businesses, tourism, food and beverages, service and textile businesses.
Seventeen are Thai citizens and 36 others foreigners. Penalties for violating the Foreign Business Act are a maximum three-year jail term or fine between Bt100,000 and Bt1 million, or both.
The Business Development Department has concentrated its inspections in five major tourism provinces – Chonburi, Phrachuap Khiri Khan, Phuket, Surat Thani and Krabi.
Mr Nattawut said the inspections were to ensure fairness for Thai business operators, adding that foreign ownership of more than 50 per cent in a company is allowed as long as the investors inform the Commerce Ministry.