Pattaya property scam overturned by Thai court

Published:  27 Feb at 4 PM
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Endless online warnings about buying condos in Thailand off-plan have been based on Pattaya’s Emerald Palace property scam, but the tables would now seem to have been turned in favour of the actual owners.

Promoted by Brit developer Richard Haughton, firstly through Harlequin Thailand and later through Haughton’s Thailand Property, Media and Exhibition Company (TMPE), the condo units were sold off-plan. Buyers remitted the purchase prices to Harlequin and TMPE, with many paying up whilst still in the UK.

What buyers didn’t know was that the property title, plus a good amount of the cash received, had been transferred to a new company, Headland Holdings, which mortgaged the entire development to Kasikorn Bank for bht71 million, some 1.3 million sterling. When the foreign buyers arrived to take possession of their dream homes, they found they had lost everything, with the condo deeds now belonging to the bank as the 71 million loan was long gone.

Legal actions take a while to come to court in Thailand, but, amazingly, recent hearings have resulted in scammed property buyers being at last granted possession of their condos. The Thai courts are ruling that either buyers should be refunded their entire purchase price or the so-called present owners of the development should hand over the deeds and cover all outstanding charges.

Pattaya’s Crime Suppression Division is reported to be continuing with its investigations into irregularities concerning Emerald Palace as well as another local development, the Spanish Village. Both cases are representative of Pattaya’s property scam mountain, and the courts have stated that the debt is not with the condo owners, it’s with Harlequin , Headland, TPME and their directors.

The moral of this sad tale, in spite of its happy ending for some is as has been urged on many expat advisory websites. Don’t, ever, no matter what, buy a condo off-plan in the Land of Smiles.
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