Officials Investigating Illegal Development on Phuket
17 March 2012
Officials are investigating property developments on the holiday island of Phuket as there are concerns that many are illegal. They are seeking to clamp down on illegal land deals and will also be investigating corrupt payments to local officials involving properties without proper planning permission, or properties which have been built too close to the beach.
They are worried that many foreign developers may have obtained planning permission from corrupt officials, or have chosen to build illegally. The team of officials is also looking at construction which may have encroached onto public land in forests, and property which is taller than Phuket’s 80 m height limit.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment thinks it possible that large areas of public land have been illegally transferred into private ownership due to corrupt government officials.
Many of these officials are quite high up, as a former vice governor of the island is almost certain to be investigated as there are suspicions they resort is being built on public forest land, and the daughter of a former permanent secretary of the Interior Ministry supposedly owns land in an area which is supposed to be protected forest land.
Much of this corruption came about in the wake of the 2004 tsunami which prompted large numbers of foreign investors to come to the island, causing property prices to rapidly increase.
The officials involved in the investigation are promising to leave no stone unturned, no matter how powerful the people involved. The level of corruption on Phuket appears to be more substantial than any other province in Thailand, and the investigations are likely to look at the personal finances of those suspected of being involved in illegal land transfers.