Srettha hits back at Chuwit, vows lawsuit after whistleblower lands a blow
Pheu Thai Party prime minister candidate Srettha Thavisin said on Wednesday he will file a defamation lawsuit against serial whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit after the former massage-parlour tycoon accused him of corrupt business practices.
Srettha, who stepped down from his position as CEO of property developer Sansiri Plc to become a prime minister candidate for the Pheu Thai Party, insisted in a Facebook post that he had always been transparent in his business dealings.
Chuwit has made two serious allegations against Srettha since Pheu Thai confirmed it would nominate him as its candidate for the next parliamentary vote to choose a premier, and has said more allegations will follow.
The two allegations are that Sansiri – under Srettha’s leadership – was involved in tax fraud and that it used a nominee firm to syphon cash from the company.
In the alleged tax scam, Sansiri helped a group of people avoid paying 521 million baht in land-sale and income tax when they sold a plot of land on Sarasin Road to the company.
Chuwit said the plot had 12 separate owners and they were encouraged to individually transfer their land rights for the plot on different days to avoid paying tax. The tax-evasion scheme was used to convince the owners of the valuable plot to sell it to Sansiri, Chuwit alleged.
Chuwit also alleged that Sansiri used a nominee firm whose shareholders were a maid and two security guards to buy land put on auction by Land and House Bank for 465 million baht. The nominee firm was N&N Assets Co Ltd, Chuwit alleged.
Chuwit alleged that a subsidiary of Sansiri, Anawat Co Ltd, purchased the plot from N&N for 1 billion baht and resold it to Sansiri to build a luxury condominium project on Soi Thonglor called KHUN by YOO.
Chuwit alleged that Anawat also lent 1 billion baht to N&N so that the maid and security guards could buy the land.
Chuwit said he will expose more dirt on Srettha on Friday unless he withdraws from being a candidate to become Thailand’s 30th prime minister.
Srettha said in his Facebook post that he had led Sansiri for over 30 years and guided it through several crises, transforming it into a leading property developer with almost 130 billion in assets. Last year, Sansiri’s net profit exceeded 4 billion baht.
Srettha insisted that Sansiri complied with good governance practices and that it had bought the Sarasin and Thonglor plots without resorting to crime.
Srettha said he welcomed public scrutiny of his company’s business practices if the scrutiny was made with honest intentions and no ulterior motives or disinformation.
His lawyers are now gathering information to sue Chuwit, Srettha said.
On Tuesday, Sansiri issued a statement to defend the Thonglor land purchase. It said the purchase was made at the market price of 1.1 million baht per square wah in 2016.
Sansiri said N & N bought the plot at the price of 650,000 baht per square wah because it bought the land in 2008 when the price was low.
Sansiri said it was normal for a firm to sell land at a profit.
Sansiri also denied that its subsidiary had lent 1 billion baht to N & N, saying the purchasing loan contract was made prior to the final sale contract so that sellers could clear tenants from the plot before the final sale contract could be signed.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai expressed confidence on Wednesday that Chuwit’s allegations would not affect Srettha’s chance to become prime minister.
The public is well aware that Chuwit often makes allegations against other people but Srettha’s support in the Parliament will not be affected by them, Phumtham said.