The headline might not mean that much to you if you dont live here but basically rich people don't get in trouble in Thailand, ever. I know that the rich get away with a lot back in the west as well but over here they literally get away with killing a cop and never even stand trial. This exact situation happened with the heir to the Red Bull throne when he drunk drive killed a police officer with his Lamborghini, fled the scene, then paid off the necessary people to never stand trial for the crime.
That's a different, and very interesting story. But let's stick with the crime that Thailand actually did charge a rich person with.
So what did this rich person do? Well, he didn't kill anyone, but he did build a house on national park land and think that this was just going to be ok.
Chokechai Supavanich is the guy's name and he used to be a director for Thai Dairy Industry - which doesn't sound like a huge position but this Dairy company is HUGE and exports all over Asia, so yeah, he's got some cash.
According to Thai friends of mine, rich folks build on national park land all the time and they get away with this by bribing people who work near the top inside of the National Park. This still seems risky to me since it seems like a government official could get replaced and wouldn't the new guy or perhaps his superior notice that the land was essentially stolen? They must have some sort of system where the new guy is aware of the corruption....
Anyway, they sentenced Chokechai to a year in jail, which I presume he isn't actually serving at least not in the capacity that a normal peon like me or you would do, and he was fined 300,000 baht and ordered to dismantle the house.
It is a little bit sad that this took nearly 10 years for the courts to finalize but the mansion is being taken down as I type this.
The ultra wealthy are rarely concerned about the laws over here. You could say that they almost have disdain for it and the fact that there is so much corruption in law-enforcement, even at very low levels, it is easy to understand why they feel they are above the law.
I suspect that in this case Mr Chokechai crossed someone or perhaps didn't pay up on bribe payments and the system, which operates more like a mafia, decided to cut him out. I suppose it is nice to see a little bit of retribution anyway, no matter how it is achieved.