Srettha hits back at land buy claim
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Srettha hits back at land buy claim

Says Thong Lor deal was above board

Srettha: Purchased at market price
Srettha: Purchased at market price

Srettha Thavisin, Pheu Thai Party's prime ministerial candidate, said on Wednesday the property development firm he formerly headed, Sansiri Plc, bought a land plot in inner Bangkok transparently at market price.

He was adding to what Stock Exchange of Thailand-listed Sansiri has called "deliberate misinformation" spread by whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit that it made an illegal land purchase using nominees for its Khun by Yoo luxury condominium.

Mr Chuvit, a former massage parlour tycoon and politician, made the allegation on Tuesday. It was the second claim he has made about alleged malfeasance at Sansiri while Mr Srettha served as its chief executive.

Mr Chuvit claimed that unethical corporate behaviour allegedly approved by Mr Srettha made him an unsuitable candidate for prime minister. Mr Srettha is expected to be nominated in parliament by Pheu Thai to head a new coalition government within the next few days.

Mr Chuvit alleged that Sansiri used a company in which a housekeeper and a security guard were the shareholders to purchase land in the Thong Lor area in 2016. He said the nominee company took out a 1-billion-baht loan to pay a landowner 565 million baht for the land. No one appears to know what the rest of the money was spent on, he added.

The land plot was purchased at 1.1 million baht per square wah, which was its market price, Mr Srettha wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

In a statement to the SET, Sansiri also rejected allegations that the price paid to the seller, N&N Asset Co Ltd, had been misstated. The price reflected prevailing market values for the area, it added.

"It has been suggested that Sansiri purchased this plot of land at an inflated price and should have only paid 565 million baht for the plot, or 650,000 baht per square wah. This suggestion is baseless," it said. "No landowners in Thong Lor would sell at this price."

Mr Srettha also said his three-decade-long management of Sansiri had been recognised for good corporate governance, and he welcomed any investigation based on facts and good intentions.

On Tuesday, Mr Chuvit claimed the name of a housekeeper had been used as a previous buyer of the land plot.

The 38-year-old woman, identified only as Pinit, said she did not know of any land deal. She said she had worked in Bangkok about five years ago and was stunned upon learning her name had been linked to the alleged land transaction.

She denied she had worked as a housekeeper and said she had informed police in her native province, Maha Sarakham, of her innocence.

Sansiri said its land purchasing procedures conformed to legal requirements. "Every step is transparent and accountable," it said.

The company also said its subsidiary, Arnawat Co Ltd, was not an existing creditor of N&N Asset. It attached a copy of the land mortgage contract that it filed with the Department of Lands.

Mr Srettha is already suing Mr Chuvit for 500 million baht for defamation over earlier comments about a land purchase by Sansiri on Sarasin Road in Bangkok.

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