Itthipol Khunpluem, the ex-minister of culture, has indicated his readiness to acquiesce to the recent arrest warrant released against him. This revelation comes from Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, the secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), who reported that Mr. Itthipol had initiated contact and assured to submit himself to the law enforcement agencies.
Mr. Niwatchai conveyed that Mr. Itthipol has the option to liaise directly with the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases Region 2. The court was responsible for issuing his warrant. Alternatively, he can approach any other government establishment.
Aged 50, Mr. Itthipol, along with two additional accomplices, finds himself embroiled in controversy surrounding the unlawful erection of a residential condo complex in Pattaya. During the time of this infraction, Mr. Itthipol held the post of city mayor and had a part to play in authorizing the construction of the Waterfront Suites and Residences in Pattaya back in 2008.
The disputed Waterfront condo project occupies a two rai plot, totaling around 3,200 square meters of land, nestled at the base of Phra Tamnak Hill. This prime location is flanked by Pattaya Bay and Bali Hai Pier. The construction permit initially issued for the project has been deemed illegal, resulting in a looming demolition order for the building.
On account of these allegations, Mr. Itthipol finds himself held accountable for malfeasance under Section 157 of the Criminal Code. This charge could result in a jail term ranging from one to 10 years. Prior to this ill-fated turn of events, Mr. Itthipol was the revered mayor of Pattaya and more recently, the minister of culture. He landed this prestigious role in former premier Prayut Chan-o-cha’s second cabinet in July 2019 as a noteworthy certitude to his influence and standing. He also happens to be younger to another former mayor of Pattaya, Sonthaya Khunpluem.
The case was lodged by the NACC with the OAG on Aug 3, and a prosecution order against Mr. Itthipol was issued by the attorney-general on Aug 30. Amid these unfolding events, it is widely reported that Mr. Itthipol made a swift exit from Thailand on Aug 30. He is believed to have flown from Bangkok to Cambodia via Suvarnabhumi airport. His two alleged partners in crime are understood to have exited the country not long after, on Sept 3.