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Army officers, police and district officials have checked and found 18 hotels that they say are illegally owned by foreigners on a mountain on the tourist destination of Koh Samui, officials said.
The officials carried out the search on Chawaeng Noi Mountain in Moo 6 village in Tambon Borphud in Surat Thani’s Samui district and found that 18 luxury mansions had been modified as hotels to cater to foreign tourists.
None of the 18 hotels are licensed and all are co-owned by businessmen from several countries, said officials, including 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 have an unfair advantage because they are not paying the same taxes as the licensed hotels.
Officials found the 18 hotels have land deeds but have not been registered as hotels.
On Wednesday, the Borphud police station took legal action against foreign executives of the four companies that run four of the 18 hotels. They were charged with operating without a 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 living abroad.