Former Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome evades arrest, seeks surrender

Former Pattaya mayor Itthiphol Kunplome is is currently evading an arrest warrant issued against him for the issuance of a construction permit for the controversial “Waterfront Pattaya” project in Pattaya.

Pattaya, Thailand – Niwat Chaimongkol, Secretary-General of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), shed light on the case of Itthipol Kunplome, the former Minister of Culture and Pattaya Mayor, who is currently evading an arrest warrant issued against him. This warrant stems from his involvement in the issuance of a construction permit for the controversial “Waterfront Pattaya” project in Pattaya, which was in violation of the law.

On Sept. 22, Niwat expressed uncertainty regarding whether the former Minister of Culture would choose to surrender to the court, given the outstanding arrest warrant against him. The situation remains tense as authorities attempt to bring Itthiphol to justice.

The 53-story Waterfront Condo project overlooking Bali Hai Pier has transformed from an engineering marvel to an eyesore to the cause of allegations of misconduct and corruption.

Itthipol Kunplome, 50, has served as both a Minister of Culture and as mayor of Pattaya City. He faces allegations related to corruption and misconduct tied to the issuance of construction permits for the “Waterfront” project on Phra Tamnak Hill, Pattaya City, Chonburi Province. These permits, identified as Form 1 No. 700/2551 dated Sept 10, 2008, were granted to Bali Hai Co., Ltd., but were found to be in direct violation of the law.

The NACC sought arrest warrants for three individuals, including Itthiphol Kunplome, Pichet Uthaiwattananon, and Wittaya Sirinworachai. These arrest warrants, marked as No. 23-25/2566 dated Sept 5, 2023, were issued by the Criminal Court, with the intention of prosecuting them for offenses outlined in Section 157 of the Criminal Code. Specifically, they are charged as government officials who failed or neglected to perform their duties, thereby causing harm to others.

Reports indicate that Itthiphol Kunplome left the country well before news of the impending arrests surfaced in early September. His departure from Suvarnabhumi Airport took place on August 30, with Cambodia as his apparent destination. Meanwhile, his co-defendants, Wittaya and Pichet, also chose to flee ahead of their scheduled arrests, departing approximately two days prior, on Sept 3.