23 May 2024

Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s younger brother has claimed that he was duped into paying 20 million baht in brokerage fees, to rent a prime plot of land from the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) in the Ploenchit commercial area of Bangkok.

Sakulthorn Juangroongruangkit, CEO of the Real Estate Development Company, said, in a written statement released today, that he did not pay a bribe to any CPB official as alleged but, instead, was the victim of an allegedly fraudulent land broker, Surakit Tangvitoowanich and Prasit Apaipholcharn, a CPB official.

The statement was in response to questions raised by opponents of Thanathorn about why Sakulthorn was let off the hook by the police, despite paying a large bribe to secure the land without going through a bidding process.

Both Surakit and Prasit were sentenced to three years each by the Criminal Court’s Corruption and Misconduct Case Division last November for taking bribes.

Insisting on his innocence, Sakulthorn said that he did not know the CPB official in person, but he admitted that he had been referred to the official by Surakit, who proposed the land in question to him.

He insisted that he did not assign the broker to secure the land deal for him, but took into consideration the latter’s offer which, he said, was found to be commercially viable for development.

Sakulthorn maintained that the 20 million baht he paid to the broker, in instalments, was not bribe money, but a brokerage fee, which is normal international business practice.

He said that he had enquired, from the CPB, about the land deal and was told that the CPB had no intention whatsoever to lease the land, after the contract for its use by the Telephone Organization of Thailand expires in the next couple of years.

The CPB found out that the letter offering to lease the land to Real Estate Development Company was falsified and alerted the police.