Ex-minister dodges jail over Pattaya luxury condo scandal

Photo courtesy of The Nation

The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases acquitted former Culture Minister and ex-mayor of Pattaya City Itthipol Khunpluem in a luxury condo scandal case.

The high-profile case, involving allegations of abuse of power, reached its statute of limitations, allowing Itthipol to escape legal repercussions.

Itthipol, who attended the court session in Rayong province yesterday, left without addressing the media following the verdict. The court ruled in his favour as the charges, dating back to his mayoral tenure in 2008, had expired.

The scandal centres on Itthipol’s decision to grant an illegal construction permit to Bali Hai Co Ltd for the development of the luxurious Waterfront condominium at the base of Phra Tamnak Mountain, Pattaya City. The Attorney General’s Office had moved to file charges against him and nine others on August 3 last year. However, the case’s 15-year statute of limitations expired on September 10.

The 50 year old Itthipol faced serious allegations under Section 157 of the Criminal Code, which could have resulted in a prison sentence ranging from one to ten years. The contentious Waterfront project spans 2 rai (3,200 square metres) of land and includes a 53-storey condominium alongside a 20-storey hotel, totalling 315 units.

The development, backed by Israeli company Tulip Group, has been a point of contention among locals for obstructing scenic views from key tourist spots, reported The Nation.

Despite the court’s decision, the Waterfront complex remains under demolition orders due to its illegal permit, signalling ongoing repercussions for the controversial development.

In related news, in a significant blow to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and its office, the Central Administrative Court has levied fines for concealing the results of its probe into former deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon’s infamous watch collection.

Veera Somkwamkid, a prominent political activist, revealed the court’s ruling on May 9, slapping both entities with a fine of 5,000 baht each for non-compliance.

In other news, an alleged corrupt former Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief experienced a significant blow as the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases sanctioned the confiscation of his assets worth 44.6 million baht.

Bangkok NewsCrime NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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