Connect with us


Breaking News: Army to probe Phuket visa run “cash for clearance’ claims at Sadao



PHUKET: Reports of foreigners returning from visa runs to Malaysia being asked to pay 200 baht in cash to clear immigration at the Sadao checkpoint are to be directed to the regional Army chief for Southern Thailand, the Phuket Gazette confirmed yesterday.

“I was doing a trip with a visa-run company to Penang, Malaysia,” said one British expat, who asked not to be named.

“On the way back, two minutes before we reached the Thai-immigration side, the driver asked us to place 200 baht cash inside our passports.”

Col Somchai Ponatong, the highest-ranking Army officer in Phuket, called on foreigners to report any such solicitations directly to him.

“Anyone who is told by a visa run company to pay immigration officers, or who has had money extorted from them, please report to me directly,” Col Somchai told the Gazette.

“Sadao is beyond my authority, so I will pass any reports to my superior, Army Region 4 Commander Walit Rojanapakdee.”

Col Somchai asked that people contact him via the Line chat application.

“My personal Line application ID is: ‘’,” he said.

The call for reports of “cash for clearance” claims follows two foreigners reporting that a Phuket visa-run company van driver had asked his passengers to “put 200 baht in each of your passports” before re-entering Thailand.

The payments would reportedly prevent immigration officers from asking each foreigner to prove he or she had access to at least 20,000 baht to pay for their stay in the Kingdom, as required by law.

Sadao Immigration Deputy Superintendent Banphot Kittivira denied the allegations.

“I have not heard anything about this. We are always strict on ensuring that officers do not take any money from tourists. However, I will look into it,” he told the Gazette.

Preeyapan Adithepwarangkul, owner of KBV Visa Run (click here), said she was unaware of any cash payments to immigration officers at Sadao.

“I do not know what happened out there, but we would never support our drivers asking customers to bribe officers. There is no need to do that,” she said.

“We inform our customers to prepare either 20,000 baht cash or make sure they can prove they have the money in their bank accounts so they can show officers at the checkpoint.”

Regardless, Ms Preeyapan said that she would raise the issue with her drivers.

“I will call them in to make sure none of them ask customers to pay bribes. There is no benefit in this for the drivers or the company,” she said.

A staffer at Thai Visa Run (click here) also assured the Gazette that her company did not suggest foreigners pay immigration officers any money to re-enter the country.

“We tell our customers to make sure they can prove they have 20,000 baht in the bank. Bribing officers is not our job. We cannot tell officers to do or not do anything,” she said.

The claims follow similar reports in July alleging that immigration officers at Phuket International Airport were soliciting cash from foreigners to use a VIP lane to avoid long queues.

Airport Immigration Deputy Superintendent Watcharapol Kanjanakuntorn denied the claims, saying that his officers had never solicited payments from tourists (story here).

A senior military officer who questioned Lt Col Watcharapol about the alleged practice fell silent about any progress in the investigation just days later (story here).

He also declined to say whether or not his officers would be reviewing CCTV footage taken within the immigration arrivals hall at Phuket Airport for evidence of whether or not the alleged payments had been routinely collected.

The military officer declined to be named.

— Chutharat Plerin


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Phuket13 mins ago

TikTok post accuses Phuket restaurant of unfair, unlisted prices

Krabi30 mins ago

Whale shark washed up on a Krabi beach in Thailand

Thailand31 mins ago

Thailand introduces fine for not wearing seat belt in the back seat

Sponsored2 hours ago

LASIK eye surgery with state-of-the-art procedures in Thailand

Eastern Thailand45 mins ago

Baby’s birthday party turns violent in eastern Thailand

Thailand55 mins ago

Thailand’s new narcotics laws offers drug offenders treatment

Thailand2 hours ago

Toad travels from Thailand to Wales in student’s suitcase

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Crime2 hours ago

Thai stunt director released from Myanmar

Economy2 hours ago

US’s Chips & Science Act good news for Thailand’s car industry

Thailand2 hours ago

CCSA to consider extending Thailand tourist visa to 45 days | GMT

Visa18 hours ago

CCSA to consider extending Thailand tourist visa on arrival to 45 days

Bangkok18 hours ago

Man caught taking drugs inside a Bangkok police booth didn’t give a crap

Thailand18 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Thailand no longer considers Covid “dangerous infectious disease” 

Crime18 hours ago

Wife says boss of Mountain B in Pattaya is ‘not a villain’

Crime19 hours ago

Policeman poses as Buddhist monk to trick drug dealers in central Thailand

Travel19 hours ago

Stress-free travel with AXA Travel Insurance

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11