Debt debacle dogs farmers

Debt debacle dogs farmers

Rural couple driven from their home deny making B700,000 pick-up buy

Wiratchada Hanchana, 50, and her husband Wichian were forced to leave the home they built and had lived in for more than 24 years after failing to pay a 700,000 baht pickup truck debt they say they know nothing about.

"I did not have a chance to fight. I haven't received any notification. I don't know anything about the debt," says Ms Wiratchada, the land owner.

They were farmers and lived a simple life in a one-storey house on a 412m² site in tambon Bang Pit, Laem Ngop district in Trat. Back in 2012, Ms Wiratchada recalled that her younger brother wanted to buy a pickup truck.

She gave her ID together with her brother's ID to an acquaintance, Wichaiyot Thongdee, who volunteered to help check if they were eligible to apply for the loan. She said she has not heard anything since.

According to a local media report, Mr Wichaiyot purchased a pickup truck worth about 700,000 baht and used Ms Wiratchada's ID as substitute guarantor. It is alleged that he only made a small number of payments for the vehicle before stopping altogether. The staff of the finance company took back the vehicle but did not return it to the company itself.

The company filed a case with Trat Provincial Court. The Bangkok Post contacted the court and found the plaintiff was the finance company, a local bank. The first defendant was Wichaiyot Thongdee and the second, Wiratchada Hanchana.

In 2015, the court issued a summons for a court hearing but Ms Wiratchada denied receiving any paperwork. A month after the writ was issued, the court handed down a ruling in April 2015 and ordered the defendants to pay their debt. Neither defendant contacted the firm to negotiate and in fact authorities were not able to find him.

In Oct 2019, the company asked the Legal Execution Department to confiscate the assets of the guarantor including her home and auction them to pay off the debt.

The first auction was held last year but no one bought the house. Upon learning that her house was for sale, Ms Wiratchada was alarmed and filed a complaint of signature forgery against Mr Wichaiyot to local police. She contacted a volunteer lawyer who told her that he would help.

"The lawyer told me that he would sue the buyer for signature forgery but two years passed and nothing happened," she said.

The property was sold during a fourth auction attempt in June to a new buyer, Jiraphat Worachat, at 400,000 baht. Ms Wiratchada still refused to move. The new owner filed a case to court asking the couple to move out.

Last week, two officers of the Legal Execution Department came to the house and told her that she and her husband must move out.

"This house belonged to us. My husband and I built it with our own hands. I want it back," she said before taking a hammer and letting her husband smash two big water jars at the house as she said she could not take the jars with them.

The Bangkok Post contacted the Network for Social Justice president Ronnarong Kaewpetch. He advised Ms Wiratchada to file a case to the police of signature forgery and take the case to court. "If she can prove the signature is fake and wins her case, she can sue the financial company for damages," he said.

Asked if she can appeal the case, he said the appeal period was within 30 days of hearing the first ruling. In this case, the court gave its ruling in 2015 so the opportunity has passed.

She and her husband have since moved to a relative's house in Laem Ngop district.

Tussanee Pao-in, acting director and deputy director of the Legal Execution Department said the department followed the court ruling and had informed the defendants about the property seizure.

It also sent out announcements about the property auction in each case before the auction was held, she said.

The house has now sold to a new owner, but if Wiratchada wants to buy the house, the department was willing to act as an intermediary, he said.

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