Buyer beware - particularly in Thai property deals
In March 2007 we were staying on Koh Sukorn, a small island in the Andaman
sea off the south west coast of Thailand (Trang province).
We met a Thai woman and her Canadian husband, married 7 years, who had
bought several properties on the island. They showed us a small derelict
resort with 5 bungalows and a restaurant. The resort was called “The small
Mike was very keen on the idea of teaching English on the island and we
being English Language teachers made plans to open a small school. After a
few weeks we agreed that Gop would buy “The small sea” and then issue us a
30 year lease. (In Thailand a non Thai cannot buy land)
Soon after the money was transferred to Gop there were problems with
registering the lease. Then Gop and her husband had to go on a trip to
Canada so before they left they issued us a 3 year lease and a letter
promising to make out a thirty year lease on their return. When Gop returned
to Thailand, with her new boyfriend, she said her and Mike were getting a
divorce. In the ensuing weeks Gop and her new boyfriend drank and smoked
dope every day.
Their attitude to us became abusive when we talked about the lease. They
made demands for large amounts of money. We refused. Then our bungalow was
broken into and the intruder took picture of his penis with my camera and
left the camera in the bungalow. At this time we went ahead and built the
school, equipped it and started teaching English.
The break-in was reported to the police in Trang who said if we ever needed
their help we should contact them. A little while later Gop and Lee (the new
English boyfriend) threatened us with a gun. We contacted the police again
and they talked to Gop who then transferred the property to our Thai Lawyer
(Tom) and then the police demanded a payment of 500,000 baht. When Tom tried
to register our agreement at the Land office, they refused. The land office
then asked for a bribe of 36,000 baht. Gop at this point fled Thailand. We
are now told we are about to be taken to court and could face heavy fines
and deportation. Our lawyer, Tom, is to face criminal and civil cases and
could lose his license. Gop although being out of the country for more then
6 months is also to face criminal charges.