By The Nation
Sri Samrong district resident Riam Chuchit and relatives met with Sukhothai police commander Pol Maj-General Suwichan Yanakittikul to express their gratitude.
Suwichan told reporters that Riam had borrowed Bt93,000 in 1983 from the local politician and had been told to sign “a power of attorney for the three plots as loan collateral”, which turned out to be a purchase contract, transferring land ownership to the politician.
When Riam showed up in 1990 with Bt80,000 towards repayment of the original loan, she was told that her liability, at 17 per cent interest per annum, had risen to Bt339,039 as of December 1990 so she still owed Bt259,039. She was allegedly denied return of her land plots.
Suwichan said a recent police probe found that the case involved alleged fraud, document forgery and over-charging of interest beyond the legal rate. However, as the offences took place over 30 years ago and had crossed the statute of limitations, police could not proceed with legal action against the politician.
The police opted to invite the politician’s family to negotiations resulting in the family, fearing their reputation would be tarnished, agreeing to return the three land plots and let Riam repay them the balance Bt259,039, Suwichan said. “Riam is lucky to get back the land plots whose value is in excess of Bt5 million,” said the senior police officer, urging people to be careful in reading contracts before signing.
Suwichan revealed that there were 14 other people facing a similar predicament as Riam and he would forward these cases to the Anti-Money Laundering Office.
Riam concurred with the senior police officer’s version of her story. She said that after getting the loan, she had been working on the land plots for years and was shocked to hear that the plots were already in the politician’s name. She was advised by a friend to contact a relative of Phalang Pracharat leader Somsak Thepsuthin. Somsak helped coordinate with the police to help her regain her land plots.