Thailand’s Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases has issued an arrest warrant for former Culture Minister and mayor of Pattaya, Ittipol Khunpluem. Ittipol had been summonsed to report to the prosecutor but failed to show, according to a Nation Thailand report.
He is accused of abuse of power while in office, after he authorised the illegal construction of a luxury, but controversial, condominium building in Pattaya. As mayor at the time, Ittipol allegedly gave the Bali Hai Company the go-ahead to build at the base of Phratamnak Hill in Pattaya City.
The Office of the Attorney General filed charges against Ittipol and 9 others on August 3, 2023, for issuing a permit for illegal construction. The 10 individuals were ordered to report to prosecutors on Monday, September 4, but failed to show.
Nation Thailand reports that his 9 co-accused are Phichet Uthaiwatthananont, Witthaya Sirinworachai, Yattiphong Intharat, Ekaphong Boonchai, Wutthisak Rermkijjakarn, Aphichart Phanpheut, Suthee Thabnonghee, Chanont Kerdyuu and Chaiwat Jaengsawang. Arrest warrants have been issued for all of them as they are considered a flight risk.
Ittipol also served as Culture Minister under former PM Prayut Chan-o-cha from 2019 to 2023. He was born into a political family in Chon Buri, where he served as Mayor of Pattaya between 2008 and 2016. His father, Somchai, was a local politician, nicknamed the Godfather of Chon Buri due to the high level of influence he held in the province.
In October 2021, in his capacity as Culture Minister, Ittipol met with Russell Crowe while the Australian actor was holidaying in Thailand. Ittipol presented Crowe with a gift basket on behalf of Prayut, to thank the actor for his enthusiastic promotion of Thailand on social media.
SOURCE: Nation Thailand