Social media highlights corruption for expat workers

Published:  7 Apr at 6 PM
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Earlier this year, a minor corruption scandal involving an expat worker in Thailand and the tax authority hit Twitter and went viral.

Immigration regulations in Thailand for those wishing to work require a dedicated work visa, work permit, tax certificates for renewals, and other hoops which need to be negotiated. The British expat who posted on Twitter was living and working legally in Thailand, with his problems beginning at his annual visa and work permit renewal.

To extend his work permit for another year, a tax certificate from the Thai tax authorities was needed to prove his payments. According to Twitter, the revenue department employee dealing with his tax cetrificate allegedly requested an unauthorised sum of 1,000 baht to complete the process.

The unhappy expat, perhaps unwisely, took a photograph of the employee and posted it online along with his report. By the time the employee had retracted his request as a result of the Twitter post, the story had gone viral and been picked up by a number of other sites.

The expat is now very concerned that his work permit will be refused and that he will have to leave the country. However, the implications of the story go further, as unauthorized ‘facilitating payments’ of this type are illegal under US and UK law, wherever a US or UK citizen makes such a payment.

According to a UK government official, if the expat had made the payment, he would have been in breach of the UK’s Bribery Act, which also applies to Thailand and a number of other countries. Given that, in many world countries, such minor payments are inescapable, with most local officials unaware of international legal complications, perhaps the best thing to do is to pay and carry on with life. However, with international companies taking an interest in perceived opportunities in fast-approaching ASEAN, perhaps the expat concerned posted an unintentional point.
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