DSI targets Phuket land encroachers
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will use the new Anti-Money Laundering law to crack down on influential figures who have allegedly encroached on over 3,000 rai of the Sirinart National Park in Phuket to develop luxury resorts.
The chief of the DSI's Consumer and Environment Protection Office, Pol Lt-Colonel Prawuth Wongsinil, said the agency received a complaint from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation seeking an investigation into a group of businessmen and influential figures who allegedly encroached on the national park in Thalang district.
He said about 3,000 rai of the park, which spans 60,000 rai, has been encroached upon, with land title deeds issued and sold to foreign investors. A total of 14 hotels and resorts are being built there. There have been attempts to seek land title deeds for another 400 plots.
The two agencies met to discuss the problem and decided to establish a joint committee to prevent tree felling in the national parks. The committee would monitor any forest encroachment activity. The Land Department would inspect issuance of land title deeds within three months.
Prawuth said the new law, which took effect on February 2, could be used to take legal action against those who commit offences related to natural resources and the environment. As well as applying the new law, the land title deeds would be revoked, he said.
"Some groups of influential figures have taken Bt30 million in deposits from land buyers and then used the money to get land title deeds illegally,'' he said.
The DSI will probe whether foreigners are using nominees to own these plots. "The luxury hotels and resorts, including the land, could be worth over Bt10 billion,'' he said.