Bangkok Post | 23 August 2009
Writer: KING-OUA LAOHONG
The Department of Special Investigation will launch an inquiry into four Thai companies in Ayutthaya which own rice-farm plots of almost 10,000 rai.
The move comes amid rumours of a massive land grab by foreign investors, particularly from the Middle East, who are said to be snapping up the country's rice-farming areas in central provinces. Transnational business consortiums are said to be buying the land through Thai nominees, which is against the law. Some Thai farmers are leasing land they previously owned but have since sold to the foreigners' proxy firms.
DSI investigator Pakorn Sucheevakul said the agency is investigating transactions by the four companies, and the firms' shareholding structures. The companies's names have been withheld. The DSI will trace information back five years to see if any foreigners have held stakes in excess of the maximum shareholder limit of 49% imposed on non-Thais.The agency, he said, had not found any major land purchases or changes of land ownership in the other nine provinces in the central region and in the lower northern region.