Samut Prakan’s Klong Dan fraud case postponed
A final ruling in the high-profile Klong Dan land grab saga in which 18 parties including fugitive politician Vatana Asavahame are accused of fraud has been postponed to May 30.
The Dusit District Court was scheduled to read the Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday, but postponed it after 18 defendants did not receive their court summons.
The case, which involved the sale of public land to a state agency at highly inflated prices, dates back to late 2005 when the Pollution Control Department (PCD) filed charges against 19 parties for alleged fraud in land acquisition.
It also filed charges for breaches of contract involving the Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant in Samut Prakan.
According to the PCD, the accused illegally acquired a 1,900-rai land plot from residents in Samut Prakan province while some other plots were mangrove forests where title deeds could not be issued.
The group then sold the plots to the state to construct the wastewater treatment project at inflated prices causing 23 billion baht in damage to the state.
The defendants pleaded not guilty and the court threw out the lawsuit against NVPSKG consortium, the project’s concessionaire, during the preliminary hearing, leaving the number of defendants at 18.
NVPSKG stands for Northwest Water International Co, Vichitphan Construction, Prayoonviskarnchang Co, Seesaeng Karn Yotha Co, and Krungthon Engineering Co, and Gateway Development (Klong Dan).
In November 2009 the Dusit district court found all the defendants guilty and sentenced 11 of them including Vatana to three years in prison.
The rest were fined 6,000 baht each.
Vatana fled before the ruling was handed down and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The politician was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2008 by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders for malfeasance and corruption concerning land purchases for the project.
In 2013 the Court of Appeal acquitted all the 18 defendants because there was no evidence that the land was acquired for the wastewater treatment project.
Based on the court’s ruling, the PCD was still undecided on the project’s location when the plot was procured and the agency could not prove how the defendants influenced the PCD’s decision.
On Tuesday the Central Administrative Court overruled an arbitration order requiring the PCD to pay 6 billion baht in compensation to the project’s constructor.