Ex-culture minister back from Cambodia to face charges over Pattaya condo
Former culture minister Itthipol Khunpluem returned to Thailand on Monday to face charges stemming from an illegal Pattaya condominium project back in 2008.
Itthipol disembarked his flight from Phnom Penh at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 10am and was immediately taken into custody by immigration police.
The former minister is wanted for corruption in construction of the Waterfront Suites and Residences in Pattaya in September 2008.
The arrest warrant was issued last month after Itthipol fled Thailand on August 30, one day after the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) ordered him to be prosecuted. The order came after the National Anti-Corruption Commission accused him of committing malfeasance. If found guilty, he faces a jail term of one to 10 years.
At 12.35pm on Monday, Itthipol was taken to the OAG’s Area 2 Office for corruption cases in Rayong’s Muang district to hear the charges. He was accompanied by his lawyer.
He smiled at waiting reporters as he entered the building, but made no comment.
After hearing the charges, he was taken to the corruption court Area 2 to be arraigned. His lawyer said he would seek bail release.
Itthipol was culture minister in the second cabinet of former prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and is also the younger brother of former Pattaya mayor Sonthaya Khunpluem.
Itthipol, 50, was Pattaya’s mayor when he helped grant permission to Bali Hai Co Ltd for the construction of the Waterfront condo project in September 2008.
The project was built on two rai of land at the foot of Phra Tamnak Hill, next to Pattaya Bay and near Bali Hai Pier.
The building was later demolished after its permit was found to have been illegally issued.