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Appeal Court fines zero-dollar tour operators B500k

BANGKOK: The Appeal Court has partially overturned a lower court’s decision and fined three defendants B500,000 each while acquitting 10 other suspects in the zero-dollar tour case.

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By Bangkok Post

Friday 16 November 2018, 09:21AM


Wasurat Rojrungrangsi (left) and his sister Saithip hold a press conference after they were acquitted in a zero-dollar tour court case in September last year. The Appeal Court upheld the acquittal for them, their parents and their companies on Thursday while fining three other defendants. Photo: Bangkok Post / file

Wasurat Rojrungrangsi (left) and his sister Saithip hold a press conference after they were acquitted in a zero-dollar tour court case in September last year. The Appeal Court upheld the acquittal for them, their parents and their companies on Thursday while fining three other defendants. Photo: Bangkok Post / file

The Court of the First Instance acquitted all 13 defendants in August last year for insufficient evidence.

The three defendants who were fined are Somkiat Khongcharoen, 59, Thawal Jaemchokechai, 61, and Winit Chantharamanee, 71, who are directors of Fuan Travel Co Ltd.

The Appeal Court found them guilty of luring foreign tourists with cheap fees and later making a profit by bringing them to buy products at inflated prices.

By offering zero-dollar tour service, they took advantage of tourists and tarnished the Thai tourism industry, the court said.

The Appeal Court based the ruling on the testimonies of executives of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Department of Tourism.

Meanwhile, the Appeal Court acquitted:

- Nisa Rojrungrangsi, 63, Managing Director of Royal Gems International Co, Thai Herb Co, Bangkok Handicraft Centre Co and Royal Paradise Co;

- her husband Thongchai, 62;

- their son Wasurat, 28, Managing Director of OA Transport;

- and their daughter Saithip, 37, Director of Baan Kanom Thongthip.

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Their six companies, which run transport and retail businesses were also defendants in the case.

The Appeal Court ruled that the 10 other defendants did not run tourism businesses but only leased buses to tour firms or sold foods and products. In addition, the tourists never complained the defendants took advantage of them, the court ruled.

Public prosecutors filed the case in October 2016, charging them with illegal association, money laundering, operating tourism services for free which may cause damage to the tourism industry, taking advantage of tourists and operating tourism services without permission.

They said all the defendants colluded with one another in bringing inbound tourists through cheap tour packages so they could buy products at exorbitant prices from shops in their network from March 24 to Aug 31, 2016.

The prosecutors estimated damage from the alleged crime at B98 million.

All of the defendants denied the charges.

It is unclear whether the prosecutors will appeal the ruling.

 

Read original story here.

 

 

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Kurt | 16 November 2018 - 11:23:48

When will be the court case about "taking advantage of foreign tourists by thai government" with dual pricing national parks? Foreign tourists pay 10 times more than thai.  And the grand palace in BKK, toreign tourists pay 500 thb, Thai pay nothing!  Very bad and damaging for Thailand 's tourist image.

Kurt | 16 November 2018 - 11:17:05

Make my day with this story. Many acquitted, just a few fined, B500K only! Guess just for thai face saving . I write 'only', as we read  "Estimated damaged from the alleged 'crime' B98 million". Than a 500K fine is peanuts! Good business, great deal! Deductible from tax paying as well?

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