Public Prosecutor defers Valentino land charges

BANGKOK (Kom Chad Luek, The Nation): Prosecutors in the land encroachment case against Malaysian Tan Teik Hai, better known as “Valentino”, and his associates have delayed bringing the trial to court as they are still waiting for the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) to submit more evidence.

The first Public Prosecutor’s hearing of the case was held yesterday morning at the Office of the Attorney General.

Wongsagkun Kittiphromwong, of the Department of Special Litigation, ordered Tan and four associates to return for another hearing, scheduled for May 24.

Tan, Phuket’s former honorary consul to Morocco, his Thai wife Sudjai Kheereephorn, the Honorary Consul for Djibouti, and her two brothers Bunlert and Krajang face charges involving encroachment on more than 1,000 rai on Koh Yao Yai.

Also facing charges is Malaysian, Tan Chi Kiang, who is a Vice-Chairman of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce and runs Chi Kiang Phuket Fisheries Co Ltd.

Tan Teik Hai and Tan Chi Kiang allegedly bought 52 plots of mountain land from locals in Phang Nga’s Koh Yao district between 1988 and 1991 and had land titles for these plots issued illegally.

Since the plots are on mountains, they are designated as public land.

After obtaining the land titles, the suspects allegedly used nine of the plots as collateral to secure bank loans – through links with bank executives – of a much higher amount than the plots’ actual value.

An informed source said the suspects never repaid the loans and the principal plus accrued interest owed now stands at about 3 billion baht.

K. Wongsagkun said that prosecutors are still waiting on a file from the DSI about encroachment on national forest land.

Prosecutors must wait for all evidence to be submitted before they decide whether to precede with the charges as separate cases or to combine them as one, K. Wongsagkun added.

Phuket News
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