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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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Phuket

Power outage in parts of Chalong tomorrow

The Thaiger

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Power outage in parts of Chalong tomorrow | The Thaiger

PHOTO: PEA

Residents of Chalong should be aware that there is a scheduled power outage from 9am to 4.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday) as the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) continues its work on high power voltage systems in the area.

The blackouts will affect the areas from the Shell petrol station on Patak Road to Bayshore law office opposite Chalong Beach Hotel on Wiset Road.

As always, the PEA apologises for the inconvenience.

For more information contact the Operations and Maintenance Department of the Provincial Electricity Authority on 07 652 1099 (24 hr)

 

 

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Phuket

Free water schedules for residents in Patong and Rassada

The Thaiger

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Free water schedules for residents in Patong and Rassada | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: PWA

Authorities have announced schedules of free water distribution for residents in Patong and Rassada.

In Rassada by the Phuket Waterworks Authority (PWA)

  1. Koh Siray, from 8pm to midnight every day at Supitcha housing estate
  2. Soi Kingkaew and Soi Honsaithong, from 9am to 3pm every day.
  3. Nattakamon housing estate, one time per three days.
  4. Thep Buri housing estate, one time per three days.
  5. Sri Suchart 2 housing estate , Rock Garden housing estate and Kietsin hosuing estate, one time per three days.

In Patong by Patong Municipality

Free water is available on Phra Baree Road, Phisit Koranee Road and Nanai Road on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am, onward starting today.

Residents are told they need to bring water buckets.

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Alleged Greek murderer of Phuket beautician remains at large

The Thaiger

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Alleged Greek murderer of Phuket beautician remains at large | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Dimitrios ‘Dim’ Chairopoulo, wanted and believed to be living in Greece

Local Phuket police are yet be informed of the latest in an international hunt for a Greek alleged murderer Dimitrios Chairopoulos. He remains wanted as a suspect in the murder of local beautician 43 year old Niramon ‘Bea’ Aewkaew in Phuket during February.

Cherng Talay police say they want an Interpol Red Notice issued so that they can track down and arrest 42 year old Dimitrios ‘Dim’ Chairopoulos, wanted for the murder. Bea and Dim were seen leaving their accommodation on February 11. It was the last time Bea would be seen alive.

Mr Chairopoulos was recorded as clearing Immigration at Phuket International Airport to board a flight to Dubai in the hours after Ms Niramon was last seen alive. He boarded an Emirates flight EK0379 to Dubai, departing Phuket at 2am. Police also confirmed that he arrived in Dubai on the same day.

“If he comes back to Thailand he will be arrested,” said Chief Col Sen Kwannimit of the Cherng Talay Police.

A request for a Red Notice was submitted with the Foreign Affairs Division of the Royal Thai Police on February 19 but, for now, no formal international’s notice has been published..

Cherng Talay Police confirmed that Dim was seen leaving the room at a guesthouse in Bang Tao where Ms Niramon’s body was found on Saturday, February 16.

In the days leading up to her murder her family had been desperately trying to contact her.

‘Bea’ was the eldest of 5 children from Phatthalung province and had been working in Phuket as a beautician at the time.

One of her sisters, May’ was contacted on February 15 by one of Bea’s workmates trying to locate her.

Neither May or Bea’s other sisters, relatives or friends were able to contact her. Bea had just moved to a new house so nobody knew where she was living. Another sister, Pichy, spoke to friends and was able, using Google Maps, to locate the guesthouse she was staying.

The owner of the room told the family that the air-conditioning was on in the room but there was no response. When the owner returned with a key he informed the family that Bea was found on the bed with a black cloth stuffed in her mouth and her hands and feet bound.

CCTV footage shows the couple leaving the room in the afternoon of February 11, the last time that Bea was seen alive.

Alleged Greek murderer of Phuket beautician remains at large | News by The Thaiger

Dimitrios ‘Dim’ Chairopoulos with his daughter from another relationship

What we know about the alleged murderer?

Dimitrios ‘Dim’ Chairopoulos, who remains at large and thought to be in Greece, worked as security in a night club in Athens. He already had a daughter to another woman in Greece.

During his relationship and marriage with Bea he was said to be ‘controlling’ and ‘jealous’ by members of Bea’s family. A close family friend told The Thaiger that the family had concerns for Bea’s safety and were ‘uncomfortable’ with her ongoing relationship and marriage with Dim.

“We tried to get to know him at family functions but he was not easy to know and seemed very possessive of Bea,” said one of the close family members who asked not to be named.

“He did threaten to kill her if she ever left him and Oh, another of her sisters, went with Bea to file a report of the threats at the Cherng Talay police station at the time,” they explained.

That report was made to police in 2016. A year later the pair married and were still married at the time of the murder.

“He would drive past the beauty shops that Bea worked at and spy on her.”

The family claim that, apart from his own possessions, he also stole Bea’s phone before he headed to the Phuket International Airport on the evening of the murder.

So where is Dimitrios Chairopoulo?

At this stage the Greek Embassy has made no comment about the case or followed up with Greek Police about the pursuit for the fugitive man.

There are currently approximately 58,000 valid Red Notices worldwide of which only 7,000 are public. An Interpol Red Notice has not been issued to alert international police or Immigration officials to be on the look-out for Dim.

For now, the alleged murderer of Bea – an innocent Phuket beautician, beloved sister and family member – remains at large, most probably in Greece.

If anyone has any information about Dimitrios ‘Dim’ Chairopoulo’s whereabouts or information that may lead police to arrest him, please send a confidential message to The Thaiger.

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