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Locals at a festival on Yao Yai: land worth five billion baht investigated

DSI Probes Phuket Family's 5 Billion Baht Deal

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
THE Department of Special Investigations is probing allegations that three members of a Phuket family and a friend misappropriated 500 rai of national park land on Yao Yai island, in Phang Nga Bay.

The land, at Klongson Bay, has a value of five billion baht and is one of several cases.

The investigation, underway since 2006, has broadened to include other alleged misappropriations in Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga provinces as well.

Three of the men from the Tantipiriyakit family met with DSI investigators in Bangkok yesterday to listen to allegations.

The fourth man, Bumrung Wongchompit, produced a letter from a doctor saying he had a heart condition and was too ill to fly.

DSI investigators say that the land involved included seaside stretches. It was scheduled to be used for a proposed marina, villa developments and a retail centre.

The land had been cleared, ready for development, having been onsold to other buyers, including some expats.

Local people, upset at the changes and troubled by interrupted water supplies from natural springs, went to the DSI to complain.

Marina developers claimed they had a chanote and the locals had no right to object because they legally owned the land, officers said.

But investigation showed the chanote to be an illegal adaptation of a very old land document. It had been adapted over many years, passing through several sets of hands, until the villagers on the island complained about the development of the land.

Tawat, Tara and Prasit Tantipiriyakit, having heard the allegations against them, will face action in the future, along with Khun Bumrung.

Other cases are likely to involve high-value sites in three provinces, DSI officials said.

Key talks are to take place next month in Khao Lak.

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