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Former Phuket official jailed over Bt700m title deed scam

Jul 10. 2018
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By The Nation

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A FORMER official of the Phuket Provincial Land Office has been jailed for five years for his role in the illegal issuance of a title deed for a seven-rai plot on Sirinat National Park’s Layan Beach.

The land’s value has been estimated at Bt700 million.

Former land surveyor Sakkarin Sutthicharawattana was found guilty by the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases of abusing his authority by colluding with other officials to issue the deed.

He was also convicted of planning to falsify state documents so they would align with information provided by the purchaser, Anuparp Vejvanijsanong, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) deputy chief Pol Lt Colonel Prawuth Wongsinil said. 

Park officials evicted private-sector occupants in 2004 and the property has since been used as a base of operations for the Layan Forest Protection Unit, though the title deed remained valid. 

The Land Department can now use the court verdict in the case to revoke the outstanding title deed, Prawuth said. He estimated the property’s worth at the popular seaside locale at Bt700 million, or Bt100 million per rai.

Prawuth explained that Anuparp obtained title deed No 20777 in September 2001 based on a Sor Kor 1 (SK-1) claim certificate that had been under another man’s name and was then transferred to two women. 

The authorities found that the property was actually in a different location than stated in the SK-1 certificate. It had not been occupied or used before May 1954 as claimed, Prawuth said. It had been identified as a “sand dune” and thus would not qualify for SK-1 status, he said. 

Anuparp and the two women whose names appeared on the SK-1 document were deemed liable for legal action. 

The late Tawatchai Anukul, former chief of the Phuket Provincial Land Office who was also charged, died in mysterious circumstances in August 2016 while in DSI custody.

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