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Phuket land scam

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In Phuket govt officials & their families reap illegal gains from beach & forest land. 200 million baht per rai , 4 billion baht beach-front hotel. 

phuket beach kamala

In photo above a lone lifeguard watchtower overlooking a deserted area of Kamala beach in Phuket near the Kamala Mountain Range where reserved forest land is goes for 200 million baht per rai

Read today's article on how the government anti-money laundering agency AMLO is working to revoke ownership of forest land  here.

Click button to listen to Phuket Land Scam to download

Interior staff implicated in land scams

Investors invade 100 plots in two provinces
14/03/2012
King-oua Laohong

Several former high-ranking officials at the Interior Ministry were involved in land scams in Phuket and Phangnga provinces, the Office of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission has found.

PACC chief Pol Col Dusadee Arayuwuthi said the officials were involved in the misappropriation of more than 100 public land plots in the two provinces.

Mr Dusadee said the officials hoped to push for the issuance of land title deeds for the plots at a later date.

A team of PACC investigators inspected more than 1,000 rai of national reserve forests and coastal areas in the two provinces and found more than 100 cases in which public land had been encroached upon.

The agency also found that in every public land encroachment case, state officials were involved, he said.

The PACC has drawn up a list of suspected public land encroachers following its probe.

"One suspect involved in two plots of land is a former Phuket governor. Another is the daughter of a former permanent secretary to the Interior Ministry," Pol Col Dusadee said.

The PACC's revelation came after the Ombudsman aired concerns on Monday over the level of land ownership by foreigners via Thai nominees. Most of the land in foreigners' hands is in coastal resort areas.

Pol Col Dusadee said that in Phuket's Krathu district, several investors have invaded reserved forest land in the Kamala Mountain Range, while land in tambon Kamala is being sold at 200 million baht per rai at the moment.

Some have tried to push for the issuance of an ownership document for a 21-rai plot in the area. A beach-front hotel worth 4 billion baht is under construction on the plot, he said.

Another group recently tried to secure a land ownership document for 45 rai of land in Khao Nakkerd forest reserve in Phuket.

Pol Col Dusadee said he would consult with senior officers to try to block the issuance of the ownership document for the land plot.

He said in many public land encroachment cases, foreigners have hired Thais as nominees and set up companies to purchase land in coastal provinces, such as in Chon Buri's Bang Lamung district and Pattaya city, and in Rayong province.

In Phuket and Phangnga, it was found that almost 70% of forest areas have been encroached on.

Problems in these two provinces are similar to what has happened in Surat Thani's Koh Samui, where most landowners are registered companies in which shareholders are Thai nominees of foreign investors.

"It is not difficult to trace connections among land owners. Companies set up with nominee shareholders do not have continuous business activities. Most such companies suffer financial losses every year," Pol Col Dusadee said.

The PACC will meet permanent-secretary for Interior Pranai Suwanrath and permanent-secretary for the environment Chote Trachu on Friday to discuss the problem of public land encroachment in Phuket and Phangnga provinces.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Interior staff implicated in land scams, Investors invade 100 plots in two provinces, 14/03/2012, King-oua Laohong, link

Land Scam Vocabulary

scam - a dishonest plan, usually for getting money
land scam - a dishonest plan to own land

lifeguard - a worker at a swimming pool, water park, or beach who watches over and supervises the safety and rescue of swimmers, surfers and people doing water sports (See Wikipedia)
lifeguard watchtower - a high tower that a lifeguard can watch for swimmers that are having a problem
overlooking -
located above an area, so you can look down into the area
deserted -
without any people
reserved forest land - forest land that people are not allowed to use (being kept in its natural state)

staff - workers, employees พนักงาน
interior staff - people who work at the Interior Ministry in the government

implicated in - proved to be involved in some illegal activity

Interior staff implicated in land scams

invade - to enter a place in large numbers, usually when unwanted บุกรุก
plots - pieces of land
public land plots - pieces of land that belong to the government

investors invade 100 plots in two provinces

high-ranking officials - high level government officials
misappropriation - to take something for yourself that does not belong to you that you are responsible for

Several former high-ranking officials at the Interior Ministry were involved in land scams in Phuket and Phangnga provinces, the Office of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission has found. PACC chief Pol Col Dusadee Arayuwuthi said the officials were involved in the misappropriation of more than 100 public land plots in the two provinces.

issuance - giving something out officially ออกประกาศ
land title - the owning of a piece of land by a person or company; ownership of land
land title deeds - the paper document that shows that you own a piece of land
land title deeds for the plots
issuance of land title deeds for the plots - when the government gives a document to prove ownership to a land owner 
push for - act to make some event happen
push for the issuance of land title deeds for the plots

Mr Dusadee said the officials hoped to push for the issuance of land title deeds for the plots at a later date.

national - belonging to the country
reserve - kept for future use; something currently not being used but that can be used when needed สำรองไว้ ที่จัดสรรไว้  
national reserve forests - forest land that belongs to the government kept for future use
encroached
- to gradually cover more and more of an area of land บุกรุก, ล่วงล้ำ

A team of PACC investigators inspected more than 1,000 rai of national reserve forests and coastal areas in the two provinces and found more than 100 cases in which public land had been encroached upon.

encroachment - entering and using an area that does not belong to you; gradually covering more and more of an area of land การบุกรุก
public land encroachment - entering and using government land that does not belong to you
public land encroachers - people who enter government land and use it without permission
public land encroachment case
state - government รัฐ
state officials
suspected - thought to be something เป็นที่สงสัย people believe that they might have done something wrong, but not yet proven
suspected public land encroachers
probe - an investigation; an attempt to find out the truth about an issue, problem or accident, made by an official group (or by the media); an investigation การตรวจสอบ การสอบสวน

The agency also found that in every public land encroachment case, state officials were involved, he said. The PACC has drawn up a list of suspected public land encroachers following its probe.

suspect - a person who is thought to have committed a crime ผู้ต้องสงสัย

"One suspect involved in two plots of land is a former Phuket governor. Another is the daughter of a former permanent secretary to the Interior Ministry," Pol Col Dusadee said.

revelation - a surprising piece of information การเปิดเผย
ombudsman - a person whose job is to deal with complaints that people make about an organization
concerns - worries ความกังวล
aired concerns
- told people what he was worried about
land ownership by foreigners via Thai nominees
land in foreigners' hands - land that foreigners own
coastal resort areas - tourist beach areas near the sea

The PACC's revelation came after the Ombudsman aired concerns on Monday over the level of land ownership by foreigners via Thai nominees. Most of the land in foreigners' hands is in coastal resort areas.

moment - a very short period of time; a particular time or occasionชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ
at the moment - now, currently

Pol Col Dusadee said that in Phuket's Krathu district, several investors have invaded reserved forest land in the Kamala Mountain Range, while land in tambon Kamala is being sold at 200 million baht per rai at the moment.

document - a piece of paper or a set of papers containing official information เอกสาร
ownership document - pieces of paper that show that you own land
issuance of an ownership document
plot - a piece of land used for a particular purpose
21-rai plot
construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง

Some have tried to push for the issuance of an ownership document for a 21-rai plot in the area. A beach-front hotel worth 4 billion baht is under construction on the plot, he said.

secure - to get or achieve something that is difficult to get การได้มาซึ่ง ได้รับ, ทำให้ได้ผล ได้มาซึ่ง
secure a land ownership document - get papers that show that you own land

Another group recently tried to secure a land ownership document for 45 rai of land in Khao Nakkerd forest reserve in Phuket.

block - to stop something, from moving through a place or from happening ปิดกั้น กีดขวาง
block the issuance - stop a document from being given to someone (issuance)
purchase - buy
registered - officially recorded as a business with the government (and given permission to operate)  
registered companies - companies that are officially recorded with the government

Pol Col Dusadee said he would consult with senior officers to try to block the issuance of the ownership document for the land plot. He said in many public land encroachment cases, foreigners have hired Thais as nominees and set up companies to purchase land in coastal provinces, such as in Chon Buri's Bang Lamung district and Pattaya city, and in Rayong province. In Phuket and Phangnga, it was found that almost 70% of forest areas have been encroached on. Problems in these two provinces are similar to what has happened in Surat Thani's Koh Samui, where most landowners are registered companies in which shareholders are Thai nominees of foreign investors.

trace - to follow the evidence to find out something;  to follow the same route or path that someone else used before ตามรอย ตามทาง to discover the cause or origin of something by examining the way in which it has developed สืบหาร่องรอย
connections -  relationships or links between things and events
trace connections - follow the links or relationships between things and events
nominee
- a legal arrangement whereby investments are held by a a person or company on behalf of the real owner ผู้รับถือหุ้นให้บุคคลอื่นที่ไม่ต้องการจะเปิดเผยตัวตน a person who acts for another person (usually to hide the other person's name and involvement)
nominee shareholders - same as "nominee"
suffer
- to experience physical or mental pain
suffer financial losses - lose money (mentally painful)

"It is not difficult to trace connections among land owners. Companies set up with nominee shareholders do not have continuous business activities. Most such companies suffer financial losses every year," Pol Col Dusadee said.

environment - the natural world of land, sea, plants, and animals

The PACC will meet permanent-secretary for Interior Pranai Suwanrath and permanent-secretary for the environment Chote Trachu on Friday to discuss the problem of public land encroachment in Phuket and Phangnga provinces.

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