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Pattaya Daily News

28 August 2012 :: 11:08:27 am 65950

Luxury Estate Overlaps Phuket National Park

A luxury estate over 7 rai worth 100 million THB is illegally overlapping Sirinath national park in Phuket. The original building permit was granted in 1984, three years after Sirinath was declared a national park.
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PHUKET – August 26, 2012 [Pattaya Daily News]: A French businessman who paid 100 million THB for a luxury estate in Phuket may lose his home, after land officials discovered nearly the entire estate is overlapping Sirinath National Park.

The large, 2-story house has a swimming pool and tennis court. It is located on a hill with a 180 degree view of the area and the sea.

Authorities who checked on the estate found only the gardener, who informed them that it belonged to a French businessman, who was away on business in Hong Kong.

According to official documents, the current owner, Mr. Bernard Gautier, French businessman, bought the property for 100 million THB. However, Mr. Bernard is not the original builder of the house, which violates zoning laws by being on park land. Mr. Bernard is not liable for prosecution as a buyer, but faces the dismantling of the home, if the court rules the house was built illegally.

Investigating the matter are Mr. Sheewaparp Sheewatham, the chief of Sirinath Park in Phuket; and Mr. Sunthorn Watcharakuldilok, adviser of the general director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

A warrant was obtained from Phuket provincial court to check the certification of utilization number 67 sor, Layan 4, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket, 7 rais, 1 ngan, 37 wa square, from the whole 16 rais, 2 ngan, 7 wa square.

As they expected, the documents they found showed the estate had been built overlap the national park illegally. Officials then checked the land co-ordinates, photographed it from the satellite, and took aerial photographs to measure its region.

Mr.Sheewaparp said that the building violation was found “by chance” on August 15, while they were checking the certificate documents of Three Dolphins Company Limited, which was building the Trisara luxury villas.

But in the process of checking, the authorities also found the certificate utilization of the illegal luxury house.

The original application to build the luxury estate was submitted in 1984, but Sirinarth was established as a national park in 1981, three years before the application was granted.

Mr. Sunthorn said that the property’s certificate of ownership had been filed illegally. To legally have land that overlaps the national park, the owner had to have an original document, like a claim certificate first.

But the luxury estate had been only surveyed on foot, so it was illegal because it overlapped the national park, he said.

Mr. Sermyos Somman, director of Protected Area Regional Office16, Chiangmai, said that document process of surveying the land on foot was illegal to certify ownership of the property.

However, the later buyers of the property were not guilty of fraud, but the orginal filers of the application document should be sued, officials said.

The certificate of utilization for the property will be revoked soon, because all the related departments and ministries are in agreement to bring back the illegal certificate of ownership to the government. The buildings would be deconstructed after the court process is finished.

Since the luxury villa “Trisara” under construction is valued at more than ten billion baht, authorities are carefully checking its land and certificate of ownership thoroughly. If that property is found to be also overlapping the national park, the government will also sue the owner.

Currently under investigation, the claim certificate was just 1 rai, but it has now generated 2 certificate of utilization, and now the property as planned has expanded from 20 rais, to nearly 200 rais.

If the land department and the park department finds that the villa was overlapping the national park, it will be in violation of the certificate of utilization.

Authorities are continuing to check the legality of the application approval of the luxury villa of the Frenchman. Officials are working to track the original applicant, as well as the ownership and rental history of the property.

The DSI, office of national anti-corruption commission, the anti-money laundering office, and the office of public sector anti-corruption, including local sectors are co-operating in the investigation.

However the entrepreneur is allowed to remain open and service its customers until the court decides on the matter.

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