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Tsunami orphanage under investigation

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Tsunami orphanage under investigation | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A special committee set up by the province is investigating allegations of fraud against the former director of a foundation set up in March last year to care for children left orphaned by the tsunami.

The panel was formed about six weeks ago following complaints to Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura. The provincial Ombudsman’s office was ordered to investigate the activities of Narin Dangtakote and his Swedish wife Maria Floren. Their Thai-Sweden Children’s Foundation has actively solicited millions of baht in donations from Swedes, then allegedly used the funds for other purposes.

The orphanage, which received foundation status on March 18, 2005 with initial funding of about 550,000 baht, is located on land donated by Wat Muang Mai in Tambon Mai Khao, Thalang.

News of the alleged fraud has been front-page news in Swedish newspapers including Expressen, which has been actively following the case. Earlier this month, Bangkok-based Expressen reporter Michael Topffer interviewed Phuket Deputy Governor (Palad) Nivit Aroonrat, who chairs the investigation panel.

Mr Topffer told the Gazette that Palad Nivit had confirmed that the foundation was under investigation and that, because of the controversy, Palad Nivit had advised against a visit to the orphanage by Swedish royals HM King Carl XVI Gustaf and HM Queen Silvia during their recent visit to Phuket.

K. Narin and his wife moved to Phuket several years ago and began building a property development aimed at Swedish buyers. When the tsunami struck, work on the development was almost complete. The couple offered temporary housing to Swedish victims of the disaster and were portrayed as heroes by the Swedish press, Expressen reported.

In January 2005, the couple declared their intention to open an orphanage, asking the Swedish public for donations. According to the foundation’s financial report, more than 20 million baht was collected.

Some Swedes who made donations to the orphanage and then visited the home asked Expressen to investigate rumors of financial impropriety and claims that the children at the orphanage were not, in fact, tsunami victims.

However, Yalinee Saisikosol, who has been working as an administrator with the foundation for two months, said that initially the orphanage had many tsunami-affected children, but that the number had dwindled as the economy began to improve and relatives came to claim them.

“We spend about 20,000 baht a week providing three meals a day for students, paying for their school fees, transport and covering expenses of our employees and volunteers. Sometimes there are additional costs, such as when we take the children out for a day at the beach,” she said.

The provincial investigation is focusing on the foundation’s finances. Last week, the committee sent one of its members, the head of the Provincial Public Works Office, to inspect buildings at the site to see if construction costs had been inflated.

Nikorn Torhirunyapreuk, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Defense Office and also a member of the investigation committee, told the Gazette that although the panel is still in the process of gathering information, it intends to try and have the orphanage’s foundation status revoked.

If sufficient evidence can be gathered, any wrongdoer will be prosecuted, he said.

“We know the foundation has only two children there who were affected by the tsunami. Another 10 children were brought in from Isarn, which is different from the stated objectives for setting up the foundation.

“As they have only two children there [full-time], why did they need to buy so many pickup trucks? We are checking on this now,” he said.

“From our initial investigations and two rounds of questioning with K. Narin, we believe there has been some dishonesty. We asked him for information regarding the construction of a sala which should have cost 500,000 baht to build, not two million baht.

“K. Narin told me that it is still unfinished. But if that is the case, why did he pay the contractor in full six months ago? According to government regulations, payment for construction should not have been made until the work was completed.

“We have to investigate this further, however, including questioning the contractor and looking into tax records,” he said.

Central to the investigation are allegations that donations were transferred to six different bank accounts, but the foundation listed only two.

The committee is also inspecting the foundation’s other expenses, including its 1,500-baht-a-day expenditure to provide meals to children.

K. Nikorn said that while the two foundation accounts show about 20 million baht in donations, the actual amount might be much higher.

“It would be good if we could gather together all the receipts issued to donors, so that we can learn how many bank accounts K. Narin used and how much was collected,” he said.

The Swedish media had played a key role in publicizing the story and helping his agency collect evidence, he added.

When the Gazette tried to call K. Narin on June 26, a man identifying himself as K. Narin’s cousin answered the phone, saying that K. Narin had gone abroad “to relax”. The Gazette tried contacting K. Narin by email but, at the time of going to press, had received no reply.

During a visit to the orphanage on June 26 by a Gazette reporter, staff said that K. Narin had resigned as director last April, but had continued to direct the foundation in a caretaker capacity.

Staff said the orphanage currently has 21 children, four or five of whom were affected by the tsunam



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Business

Some restrictions lifted for superyachts in the region

The Thaiger

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Some restrictions lifted for superyachts in the region | The Thaiger

PHOTO: katarocks.com

Thailand is poised to ease rules on bareboat charters as well as introducing new measures to attract more luxury and super yachts into the region.

The new measures were laid out in a presentation called “Highlighting Strategies for Attracting Yachts and Improving Safety at Sea” held at the 2019 Thailand Yacht Show and Rendezvous in Phuket.

Gordon Fernandes, Asia Pacific Superyachts co-founder, outlined new measures to attract Superyachts in the meeting attended by officials from Thailand’s Customs Department.

Representing Thailand’s Customs Department, Kanchana Suwanicho, updated delegates on the rules applying for a temporary stay for yachts as well as outlining revisions for bareboat charter rules.

ttrweekly.com reports that, under the revisions, bareboat charters will not need to hire a Thai registered captain and engineer to be present on board vessels for the sailing duration.

“Out-dated rules are being reviewed, but due to recent boating tragedies involving foreign tourists authorities are concerned about potential safety lapses.”

Stating that Thailand wants to continue being the ‘Yachting Hub for Asia’ Kanchana said bareboat charters would not be required to hire a Thai captain and engineer, but the charterer would be required to show they had qualified personnel to assume full responsibility.

The Revenue department confirmed it was actively working to resolve a stumbling block linked to Superyacht charter licences.

“Once this stumbling block has been removed foreign flagged yachts, over 30 metres long, will be allowed to legally charter in Thailand. This will be a major boom for the industry both in Phuket and across the region.”

The easing of restrictions for superyachts coming to the region has been a major issue of the founder of the Thailand Yacht Show and Singapore Yacht Show, Andy Treadwell.

Some restrictions lifted for superyachts in the region | News by The Thaiger

Attendees of the “Highlighting Strategies for Attracting Yachts and Improving Safety at Sea”

PHOTO: ttrweekly.com

Some restrictions lifted for superyachts in the region | News by The Thaiger

Gordon Fernandes, Asia Pacific Superyachts co-founder – PHOTO: Guy Nowell

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Phuket

Suspect hands himself in to police, denies charges in Saphan Hin shooting

The Thaiger

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Suspect hands himself in to police, denies charges in Saphan Hin shooting | The Thaiger

A suspect has handed himself in to police after an arrest warrant was issued over a Saphan Hin shooting last week. The suspect is denying the charges.

A Thai man was shot dead near Saphan Hin in eastern Phuket last week. An arrest warrant was issued for the suspect shortly after as police went hunting for the suspect identified by witnesses.

Read more about the shooting HERE.

Wichit Police Chief Col Nikorn Somsuk says, “The suspect is 23 year old Jakkrit Sangsaard. Yesterday he presented himself to police for the shooting and carrying gun in public changes. He has denied the charges and been bailed.”

“At this stage we believe that the suspect and the dead man, Teerasak, had a previous conflict.. Teerasak stopped his motorbike and tried to fire a shot at the suspect but the gun misfired. The suspect then shot back. We are continuing our investigation.”

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Phuket

Legal action taken against people who removed beer cans from beer truck accident scene

The Thaiger

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Legal action taken against people who removed beer cans from beer truck accident scene | The Thaiger

PHOTOS / VIDEO:  Thanakrit Asulyakul / Mana Sombat / Kanlaya Singkangrang / Kritsada Mueanhawong

Legal action has already been taken against four people who ‘removed’ beer cans after a truck carrying boxes of beer cans overturned in Phuket on January 11.

A logistic company representative has filed a report with police after more than 80,000 beer cans, valued at more than two million baht, mysteriously “vanished” after the truck overturned in Rassada.

Read more about the incident outside a Rassada 7/11 HERE.

The Phuket City Police Chief Col Sompong Thiparpakun says, “Four people have now been arrested. They have admitted that they saw other people taking beer cans, so they did too. They say they have consumed the contents of all beer cans. ”

“If evidence can be provided that other people took these beer cans and sold them, legal action will be taken against them too.”

“It was illegal to remove these items from the crash scene.”

Legal action taken against people who removed beer cans from beer truck accident scene | News by The Thaiger

Legal action taken against people who removed beer cans from beer truck accident scene | News by The Thaiger Legal action taken against people who removed beer cans from beer truck accident scene | News by The Thaiger Legal action taken against people who removed beer cans from beer truck accident scene | News by The Thaiger Legal action taken against people who removed beer cans from beer truck accident scene | News by The Thaiger

 

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