Court urged to help loan shark’s victims

Court urged to help loan shark’s victims

National police adviser Wirachai Songmetta in Prachuap Khiri Khan province on the informal debt problem on Tuesday. (Photo by Chaiwat Satyaem)

Authorities are asking the court to revoke the allegedly unfair consignment sale of loan agreements for 18 debtors who were made landless and homeless by a loan shark in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Many of the victims who failed to settle their debts due to exceptionally high lending rates have already seen ownership of their land change hands. Some have even been forced to pay rent in order to continue living in their seized houses, police said.

The victims allegedly fell prey to a loan provider identified as Suthi Thananansiri, who is accused of demanding annual interest rates of between 36-48% and exploiting the consignment sale agreements, national police adviser Wirachai Songmetta said yesterday.

Under the agreements, usually made at the Land Department, people were required to “sell” their land to the lender to cover their debts, but could later reclaim their rights to the land if they were able to pay the money back.

But many debtors failed to meet the repayment deadlines and lost their property to the creditor.

In the case of the 18 victims, police suspect the consignment sale agreements were “unfair and fraudulent” and the officers are asking the court to consider revoking the agreements, said Pol Gen Wirachai.

Earlier, police raided Mr Suthi’s motorcycle shop in Pran Buri district, Prachuap Khiri Khan, where they found a large number of loan-related documents, including land title deeds.

“Some were land mortgage documents which only bore the names of those seeking loans without other necessary details,” said Pol Gen Wirachai.

Police have already filed charges against Mr Suthi, he said, referring to accusations that he forced his debtors to pay interest rates higher than the legal limit, while working without the necessary licence.

The national police adviser yesterday told land owners who cannot repay their debts not to leave their homes, after discovering that many had been warned to do so.

Pol Gen Wirachai also warned village heads and kamnan, or tambon chiefs, against signing their names to endorse the transfer of land ownership under Pho Tho Bo 5 documents.

Pho Tho Bo 5’s provide land use details used by owners to pay the land development tax.

The transfer of land rights under this type of document is required to follow strict rules as ownership cannot easily change hands, like with other types of land documents, he said.

Pran Buri resident Nantha Hoonkao is among the 18 villagers struggling to pay debts to Mr Suthi. She had sought a loan of 500,000 baht but failed to secure the full amount.

The woman claimed she was forced to make a consignment sale agreement, using her house and a plot of land in Kui Buri district, Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Her house was seized when she failed to repay the debt. Mr Suthi allegedly offered to return the house for 900,000 baht, but Ms Nantha could not raise that sum. Instead, she began paying 5,000 baht a month to continue living in her home.

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