Peak development project holds illegal land

Source: Bangkok Post - 3 September 2006

By Kultida Samabuddhi & Supaphong Chaolan: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's inquiry into the Koh Samui land scam has found that land rights documents issued for 179 rai of land under the multi-billion-baht The Peak project were illegally issued. The panel, chaired by deputy chief of the Forestry Department Thanee Viriyarattanaporn, last month proposed that the Land Department revoke land ownership documents issued for five plots covering a total of 114 rai on Khao Dang mountain-top. But the panel concluded on Thursday that another two Nor Sor 3 Kor land rights papers, Nos 4842 and 4843, and issued for around 65 rai on the same mountain, should also be annulled.

The investigators found that the land rights documents were a duplication of the Sor Kor 1 land occupation papers, which had been issued for other land plots, Mr Thanee said yesterday. Moreover, part of the 64-rai land is located in a prime forest area with slopes inclination of more than 35, which by law cannot be privately owned, said the head of the investigation panel.

The panel has found the evidence needed to prove that land ownership documents for 179 of the 451 rai of land acquired by The Peak developer was unlawfully issued.

However, they found nothing wrong with the land rights papers issued for the remaining 272 rai, said Mr Thanee.

He also implicated land officials in the illegal issuance of land rights documents. He urged the Land Department to go ahead with the nullification of the land rights documents to prevent The Peak developer from continuing construction work, which the panel fears would damage the island's ecological system. The project comprises luxury housing estates for lease, two five-star hotels and a spa complex.

Noppadon Pattama, assistant to caretaker Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat, said the minister would forward the results of the investigation to the Land Department chief within the next few days.

''After revocation of the documents, the ministry will take legal action against the project developer for forest encroachment,'' Mr Noppadon said, adding that the problematic land plot would be declared a protected forest zone.

Boon Vanasin, chairman of the Rajthanee Group, co-developer of the project, was not available for comment yesterday. However, he told a press conference last month that land rights documents for all 451 rai were legally issued.

Dr Boon threatened to take legal action against land officials if the rights to land acquired by the company on Koh Samui are revoked. He said alleged irregularities surrounding the project had scared away potential customers, particularly those from the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

''Allegations of illegal land acquisition and forest encroachment have caused losses of nearly 182 million baht. More than 20 clients have also cancelled the 30-year lease agreements,'' he said."



Bangkok Post April 5 2007

Land plot papers to be revoked

The Land Department will revoke land papers issued for six plots of land on the tourist island of Koh Samui , a senior land official said yesterday. Department deputy chief Vichai Praisa-ngob said an investigation had concluded the Nor Sor 3 Kor title deeds for the land had been illegally issued. False Sor Kor 1 land occupation papers were used to apply for Nor Sor 3 Kor papers.

The disputed plots are part of the 451-rai Peak property development project in tambon Bo Phud.

Full ownership title deeds were issued for 18 blocks, land use certificates, or Nor Sor 3 deeds, were issued for four plots, and upgraded land use certificates, or Nor Sor 3 Kor, were issued for another 24 plots.

Mr Vichai said a committee had been set up to investigate the land officials involved and consider disciplinary action against them.

He shrugged off speculation the land's occupants would sue the department, saying the inquiry was carried out in a transparent and straightforward manner.

The inquiry into the land acquisition for the property development was initiated after the developer advertised the land for sale at prices up to eight million baht per rai.


Land Office junks Peak land titles

Samui Express - February 23 2007

THE Land Department of Koh Samui has nullified the land title deeds of four plots of land (totaling 75 rai or 12 hectares) earlier claimed by the controversial Peak Project following a court finding last year that they had been illegally issued with connivance of some land department officials.

The project , located at Khao Dang and owned by Ratchathani Realty, underwent investigation and was found irregular as the land-ownership documents were found to be fraudulent.

The nullified Peak Project land ownership include land under Nore Sor 3 Kor No. 4841 located at Bophut sub-district covering 52 rai (8.32 hectares) and 83 square wah (332 sqm). It was also found that then company used Sor Kor 1 document to illegally acquire land measuring 23 rai (3.86 has.) and 37 square wah (148 sqm).

Other land acquisitions of Ratchathani Realty Co.Ltd. and Thonburi Hospital , encompassing 63 Rai (10.8 hectares) were also cancelled as they had been found to have encroached on a forest=reserve area where the island sources its water supply.

The land scam controversy on Koh Samui has led to a clamor for a change in the code of law related to land and property. Specifically there is a move to phase out the Sor Kor 1 land documents related to agricultural land. It is reasoned that this document leads to public-land encroachment and related problems especially in tourism destinations like Samui.

Khanchai Vijakkhana, land development deputy chief , said a bill to effect this change has been drafted and that the next step is to pass the bill to the office of the council of state, which has the authority to pass this into law.

If the law to cancel Sor Kor 1 is enforced, those who own land title deeds under this notification form of possessed land will be asked to submit the document to the official within 180 days after declaration.

If ignored, the court will judge whether the document is legal. At the same time, the Land department will subject Sor Kor 1 documents to mapping to prevent any false claims.

‘If the law is enforced, it will help solve the use of false documents and prevent land purchasers from being deceived. Like wise, the official will happily with no complexity like the previous law. I think this law will be declared soon as it is a very helpful policy move by government', Khanchai said.

Boon Venasin, owner of Ratchathani Realty, exonerated himself from all wrongdoings, placing all the blame on the company that sold him the lands.

He said he has yet to receive the official document canceling the land-ownership, adding that he intends to appeal the court ruling.