The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases today (Aug 29) sentenced former Pheu Thai Party leader Yongyuth Wichaidit to two years in prison with no suspension after finding him guilty of illegally approving land deal for the Alpine Golf Course in Pathum Thani 15 years ago.
The temple land fraud was investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) after complaint was lodged against Mr Yongyuth, then deputy interior permanent secretary serving as caretaker permanent secretary, for endorsing the sale of monastic land owned by Wat Dhammamikaramvoraviharn to privately owned Alpine Real Estate Co and Alpine Golf & Sports Club in 2002.
He allegedly broke Section 157 of the Criminal Code due to dereliction of duty and committed serious disciplinary violations.
The land in question, covering 924 rai in Pathum Thani's Khlong Luang district, was donated by Mrs Noem Chamnanchartsakda to Wat Dhammamikaramvoraviharn in Prachuap Khiri Khan in 1971.
After the land donor died, Mahamongkut Ratchawittayalai Foundation was appointed the executor of the estate. The foundation then sold the two donated land plots to Alpine Real Eastate and Alpine Golf and Sports Club.
The Council of State later ruled that the sale of the donated land plots was illegal as the law prohibits the sale of temple land. Citing the Council of State's ruling, the Land Department revoked the land deal.
But Mr Yongyuth scrapped the Land Department's order revoking the land deal, hence paving the way for the sale of the land by the two Alpine companies.
The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases ruled that Mr Yongyuth's decision to scrap the Land Department's order was an abuse of discretion and considered to be an act of dishonesty. Mr Yongyuth's action also caused damages to Wat Dhammamikaramvoraviharn.
The court sentenced Mr Yongyuth to two years in prison. He was later released on 500,000 baht bail.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)