Italian Man Arrested on Samui Island for Allegedly Selling Cocaine and Illegally Operating a Motorbike Rental Shop

Surat Thani –

An Italian man was arrested on Samui Island after he allegedly sold cocaine and illegally operated a rental motorbike shop with 70 motorbikes using a Thai nominee to disguise his ownership.

Surat Immigration told the Phuket Express on Tuesday (June 18th) that they arrested a suspect identified only as Mr. Mattio, 39, an Italian national, on the Lamai Beach Road in the Maret sub-district, Samui district.

The arrest came after Surat Thani Immigration was notified from concerned citizens that an Italian man was selling cocaine to tourists at bars and nightclubs on the Samui Island. Surat Thani Immigration then conducted a sting operation in which they agreed to buy 25 grams of cocaine from Mr. Mattio for 2,500 baht per gram, costing in total 62,500 baht.

The two sides agreed to meet at a bar near the Lamai Beach to conduct the transaction. Mr. Mattio met with the undercover officer in the back of the bar but Mr. Mattio tried to escape on a motorbike when he realized that his customer was actually law enforcement. However, Mr. Mattio was blocked from escaping by other police and Immigration officials and arrested nearby. Seized from him were 31 grams of cocaine.

Officers also searched Mr. Mattio’s rental motorbike shop in the Maret sub-district. Police seized 70 motorbikes from the shop and seized eight bank books with more than eight million baht in money generated from what police say were illegal transactions in those bank accounts. Police also seized 1,095,000-baht in cash from Mr. Mattio.

The motorbike rental shop was registered as a legal company by a Thai woman identified only as Mrs. Wassana. Officers investigated the legal documents and evidence of the company and found that only Mr. Mattio had invested in the business and received all income and according to police Mrs. Wassana was not a true owner and only a “nominee” used to hide Mr. Mattio’s presence as the true sole owner.

Mr. Mattio was taken to the Bophut Police Station to face charges of illegal possession of category 2 drugs with intent to sell and allowing Thai people to assist in running an illegal foreign business.

Mrs. Wassana was also taken to the Bophut Police Station to face charges of supporting a foreigner for owning a business as a nominee. The Surat Thani immigration told the Phuket Express that Mr. Mattio had gotten married to a Thai woman and used money from selling cocaine to open the motorbike rental shop.

The Phuket Express has seen a significant amount of confusion around this crackdown and wanted to take a moment to clarify some things.

A “nominee” is essentially when a foreign national “nominates” a Thai national to be the legal license holder and on-paper owner of a business, skirting Thai law around foreign business ownership.

In reality, in illegal nominee cases, a foreigner or group of foreigners are the sole owners and the Thai name is usually just a paid employee with no actual ownership or business decisions made. This Thai nominee is usually given extra money by the true owners to be the legal license holder.

Thai authorities are not cracking down on legitimate legal business partnerships or married couples in which a foreign national has a legal percentage of a business per Thai law. They are only targeting illegal nominees, which although common in Thailand, and for a long period of time not enforced, is indeed against Thai law.

Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for five years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.