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Raid on 18 foreign-owned Koh Samui hotels, owners arrested

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Army, police and municipal officials have raided 18 hotels on Koh Samui claiming that they are illegally owned by foreigners. The hotels in questions are on a mountainside on the Gulf island, the second largest island in Thailand.

Officials carried out the search and raids on Chaweng Noi Mountain in Moo 6 village in Tambon Bophut  and found that 18 luxury mansions had been modified as hotels to cater to foreign tourists.

None of the 18 hotels were licensed and all are co-owned by businessmen from several countries, according to officials, including the UK, Germany, France, Russia, Belgium, Israel and Austria. Officials said the foreigners used Thais as nominees by stating their names as co-owners.

The inspection was carried out following complaints from licensed hotels that they had seen a large decrease in patrons after the new hotels began operating. Hoteliers said the new hotels had an unfair advantage because they were not paying the same taxes, or operating under the sale rules, as the licensed hotels.

Officials found the 18 hotels had proper land deeds but had not been registered as hotels.

Bophut police station took legal action against foreign executives of the four companies that were operating four of the 18 hotels. They have been charged with operating without a hotel license and working in a business – food and beverage – that is reserved for Thais.

Police said they will summon executives of the remaining 14 hotels to face charges. The executives are all living abroad.

SOURCE: The Nation

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