A Flying Sporran Enquiry
From ANDREW DRUMMOND
October 3 2011
October 3 2011
Housing built for Thailand's poor has been bought cynically off the books of the National Housing Authority and is being marketed - by an American 'businessman' with a dubious past - to foreign tourists and expatriates.
And in verified cases the cash invested was not passed on to help the less fortunate, but instead pocketed by the American, who had re-invented himself in Thailand as a trained lawyer and journalist.
The American businessman, Drew Noyes, who publicly professes his love for the Thai people, culture and language, told his foreign clients that he was cashing in by buying up properties repossessed from poor people who could not keep up their payments - and they should join him in the bonanza and reap the rewards.
"I paid corrupt officials"
"They are a greedy bunch," he is alleged to have said. But there is no evidence at all that he paid one baht to any National Housing Authority official.
When confronted with a potential prosecution Noyes escaped serious fraud charges by saying his victims would not get one cent back unless they signed statements absolving him of wrong doing. And he threatened those who broke a secrecy clause that '˜influential friends' would arrange their arrest and deportation.
At least one person paid a heavy price ensuring the Noyes was forced to pay up. Briton Chris Hill, a member of the Pattaya Expatriates Club, and devout christian, who refused to believe Noyes' Walter-Mitty fantasies is now living in Belgium. After exposing the scam to a few people several years ago he was hounded by threats and law suits. He still returns to Pattaya where he supports some projects, but the city no longer holds the same attraction to him.
At the centre of the controversy is the Thai National Housing Authority which, it is alleged, even provided expatriates cash loans, so that they could afford to buy the properties which were built so Thai middle and low income earners could afford a reasonable place to live. On paper it makes British former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's public housing sell-off look lame but the scheme seems to have been confined to the resort area of Pattaya.
Noyes has been renting and selling these NHA properties for years, sometimes using them to house Filipina staff working on his newspaper, and even today a range of NHA apartments, described as having an ocean view, pool and tennis courts, is advertised in Noyes' Pattaya Times newspaper and being marketed by his company called PAPPA. As many are still on his books it seems they were not the 'hot cakes' he was promoting to foreigners.
This week officials of the National Housing Authority at Keha Condos in Thepprasit Road, Jomtien, Chonburi Province, offered me two apartments giving an immediate 20 per cent discount if I paid for cash. It was the only two they had left. Foreigners could buy, said the official, because Thais could not afford them or did not want them and they needed to raise capital.
But just around the corner in the same block Drew Noyes' wife Wanrapa Boonsu, the Editor* of the '˜Pattaya Times' offered an investigator a wide range of NHA property in the same blocks.
'They're all owned by my husband,' she said pointing to his picture on the front page of the '˜Pattaya Times' and handing over a free copy. Financial assistance, which was promoted on the advert was no longer available, she said.
|Drew with Wanrapa|
NOW READ THE FULL INVESTIGATION BELOW
FOR SALE TO FOREIGNERS - THAILAND'S HOMES FOR THE POOR
The advert in the Pattaya Times seemed tempting enough. An investor was selling his condos in '˜South Pattaya' with panoramic ocean views and an '˜Olympic swimming pool and tennis courts on site' for knockdown prices - 800,000 baht for a studio and 1,400,000 for a one bedroomed unit. 'Financing available'. I sent my investigator along to check it out.
The investigator was met by a woman known as '˜Kung' , real name Warapan Boonsu, the editor of the local '˜Pattaya Times', who said all the properties were owned by her husband. Our inquirer was shown a selection of apartments by a member of staff.
The condos were built by Thailand's National Housing Authority. And they were in a very utilitarian building where the corridors inside drummed out the message 'government issue!'
But the box like units were a step up from the rooms shared for instance by factory girls. And the apartment pictured below was offered at 1,400,000 Thai baht.
It did not seem particularly cheap, nor were we struck by the notion that soon its value would spiral as Pattaya became the centre of the universe as we know it, according to the investor.
By the time we met up and returned to the office of the company PAPPA, which like the '˜Pattaya Times' is owned by an American of some distinction Drew Noyes, neither Noyes, nor Kung were available to field our questions. But I knew too they would not be around.
Noyes had an appointment at Pattaya Criminal Court where he is accused of another '˜exaggeration'. He has accused of libelling Andre Machielsen, a children's entertainer, Pattaya businessman, and former officer of the Pattaya City Expats Club.
(* see note at end of story)
Never mind. I had no intention of putting cash down on any 'paradise' apartments offered by Drew Noyes in the Keha Tower government housing project in Thepprasit Road, Jomtien.
This is not because Noyes has already been exposed in a newspaper investigation in America where he was accused of bogus share dealing and property dishonesty.
Nor is it because he presents a false resume claiming to be the most credible and res-assuring guy to have ever set foot in Thailand. Nor is it indeed because I thought living in one of these units might be a tad depressing for a foreigner - though any one of these reasons would have been sufficient enough.
Foreigners who bought apartments from Drew Noyes have signed statements cataloguing their tales of woe.
But to find out how Noyes took over Thai government housing units specifically built to give poorer people a better life one has to go back to 2003.
That is when Noyes, then chairman of the Pattaya Expat Clubs, started ringing around members with an unbeatable offer.
One of the first to get a call was American Greg George, from Atlanta, Georgia.
'He said he had exclusive access to re-possessed properties. He said because he was invited to Thailand under a Treaty of Amity he had special privileges and had a real deal in government condos,' relates Greg today.
.Greg took the bait and sent him the equivalent of 2 million baht as a deposit on three units on the eighth floor of Keha Towers and then later flew back from the United States to Pattaya with another 2 million.
Next up were Briton Barry Wilson-Singer, from Kensington, West London, and his German wife Elena.
'He said he was the sole agent for Thai National Housing (NHA) and had taken over from people whose property had been re-possessed. He told Elena (my wife) that if we wanted we could get interest free loans", said Barry.
'Zero per cent loans to foreigners with capital'
'I told him I could not afford to pay 5.1 million baht for two apartments. I could have bought a whole house with a garden for a million. He said that the real leverage was that the Thai National Housing Company wanted 5.1 million baht, but they would offer zero per cent loans to foreigners with capital.'
Barry Wilson-Singer said he could raise 2.9 million baht for the deposit on two apartments on the 12th floor of the same block.
But if they thought the National Housing Authority offering free loans to foreigners on property intended for less well-off Thais seemed a bit suspicious, then the eloquent Mr. Noyes convinced them otherwise. What's more new freeways and casinos were coming to Pattaya. Their investments would sky rocket, insisted Noyes.
On December 9th 2003 Greg George, and the Wilson-Singers handed over their money in cash to Drew Noyes at the Thai Farmers Bank, Big C Branch in Pattaya. Noyes promised formal receipts later.
By March the following year the receipts had still not materialised. But they had got a loan and Noyes told them they would get the papers for the condo when they paid it off. But still there were no offer of receipts for the payments to him which had now totaled 2,900,000 Thai baht - and by this time the couple were talking divorce.
Frustrated at Noyes' evasions, in April 2004 Elena finally decided to contact Briton Christopher Hill, an official of the Expats Club, to raise her concerns. He put her in touch with a lawyer straight away. Arrangements were made to go to see the National Housing Authority as lawyer Katrena Wonnasakda suspected a major problem.
Meanwhile seemingly hearing of her discontent and attempting to nip her complaints in the bud Noyes had asked her husband Barry to visit him.
"Drew said to me that he had spoken with the top man at the National Housing Authority who was furious that Elena had accused the authority of corruption. It was serious, he said, because they were senior officials, it could end up with us being deported and sued".
Noyes demanded Barry sign a note which he said had been dictated by the National Housing Authority.
'I signed this note worried that my wife who has a temper may have caused trouble.'
In fact Elena had never been to the National Housing Authority and only found out about the note when she visited them together with her lawyer a legal assistant to find out what was happening to their cash.
Said Elena: 'We were met by a khun (name removed) and I was informed that my husband Barry Wilson-Singer had been there earlier to swear out a statement. I asked what kind of statement. His answer was that Barry stated I was lying.' No explanation was given as to her alleged lies.
The gloves were off. Noyes' attempt at intimidation had in fact backfired. Elena's lawyer went straight to police. Senior officers were called in.
Said Elena: 'Ms.Wonnasakda turned to me and told me that (police) believed I was a victim of fraud which involved officials at the National Housing Authority.' They wished to initiate a prosecution immediately.
Mrs. Wilson-Singer then made a full report to the police, but she asked them to hold off.
A subsequent meeting was arranged with Chris Hill, the Singer-Wilsons and Drew Noyes at which the couple Noyes and demanded their full money back and by the way 'Where was it?'
"Mr.Noyes told those present that as this was Thailand he had used the money to pay some court officials to get properties out of failed mortgage scheme like repossession," said Barry.
In a subsequent meeting Elena said Noyes changed his story to say he had paid National Housing Authority officials. '˜You paid them our 2.9 million baht?" raged Elena in disbelief.
"I don't have to take this shit" - Drew Noyes
Noyes stood up, said Elena, saying: 'I do not have to take this shit. I'm leaving.'
Noyes, say all three witnesses, skipped all planned further meetings for two weeks which convinced the couple he was playing a game. He finally turned up for what he said was a last meeting on April 2004 telling Elena: 'I am only doing this so I do not have to see your ugly face again.'
In heated exchanges Elena said she was going public and would hold a press conference with her lawyer to announce what Noyes was up to and then stormed out.
|Drew Noyes and Neils Colov. Then arch enemies now apparently friends with many things in common|
"Chris said he thought many of the wire services would pay for a story about a marriage being broken by an American businessman paying their deposits to corrupt officials."
At this point, said Barry, Noyes finally relented and said he would pay the money back. But to save face he asked he could use his (illiterate) wife Nittaya Noyes (right with Drew Noyes) to purchase back the two condos.
The couple received all but 55,000 baht of their investment back. It had taken them the best part of the year.
Afterwards Noyes issued a statement which was sent to members of the Expat Club in which he professed total innocence: 'The truth is two friends asked to join my wife and me in a serviced apartment project we call '˜Seaview Apartments'
'The controversy arose not out of bad acts but as a business matter. Club secretary Alan * (Sharret) has been kept informed on every aspect of this case and can vouch for my integrity.
'Pressure was put on me to buy them back or I would be defamed by the local scum monthly newspaper'
Having heard of the Wilson-Singers success at getting their cash back a by now thoroughly dissillusioned American Greg George went to them for advice and was introduced to their lawyer, Katerina.
"I confronted Drew and he said he had paid off the cash to corrupt officials. He said they were a greedy bunch.* I remember it well because we were in the office of Sifu McInnes, a businessman whose lawyers Noyes was using, and Sifu warned him about his mouth and making allegations of corruption against Thais. I was infuriated and of course did not believe him. Whenever I threatened him he would warn me of the influential friends he has in Pattaya. I could be arrested, jailed, deported, the full gambit."
Furious Greg George wanted to prosecute. On May 14th 2004 Greg George, Elena Wilson-Singer met with a Police Colonel (Jitporn) of Pattaya Police and formal statements were made. Police said they would seek an immediate arrest warrant.
The matter however was dropped on Chris Hill's advice when Drew Noyes quickly offered to pay back 3,500,000 of Greg George's 4 million Thai baht.
Even though this was half a million baht short Noyes, Greg George, who was returning to the US was advised to accept it otherwise he might lose more.
The payment came with a final sting, Chris Hill reported: 'The perpetrator (Noyes) arrived to present the cashiers cheque at the attorney's office and with a cameraman to record the happy event.
"However, there was a further condition introduced with the cheque. This was for a letter which was drafted by the perpetrator or his agent saying that he was not guilty of fraud. As Mr. George had borrowed 2 million baht to participate in the perpetrator's scheme he asked the attorney to issue the letter or he would not get his money.'
Greg George has lost 500,000 baht, Elena lost 50,000 baht plus all the cash she had spent doing up the apartments and Chris Hill paid heavily for helping out the expatriates in distress. After notifying members of the Expats Club of what had happened he was vigorously pursued by Noyes with threats of legal action for defamation and deportment from Thailand ¦in fact all the usual threats people who cross Drew Noyes get, but much more severe in intensity.
He said: 'I believe I conscientiously executed the requirements of my office as a Member of the Board (of the Expats Club).'
Meanwhile, said Greg George: 'My lawyer said I had better take the money while he is still around to pay it, if you know what I mean. I do not know why I believed that Treaty of Amity
"I can't believe he is still around today."
Drew Noyes still calls in to the Pattaya City Expats Club (The Pattaya Expat Clubs is now being run by Neils Colov) to give talks and he recently promoted a seminar for Chonburi judges to explain Thai laws to the local expats.
The 'Letter' Which Gullible Pattaya Expats Ignored
The following is a letter sent to the Pattaya City Expatriates Club after the Drew Noyes Government housing fiasco. Noyes was able to completely whitewash the club and then set about a vendatta against Chris Hill the Briton who helped the Wilson-Singers and Greg George with their cases. Evidence is now coming to light about Drew's threats against other expatriates in Thailand. Andre Machielsen a member of the Pattaya City Expatriates Club at the time, who is now suing Noyes for libel, says at the time he he supported Drew Noyes as he was a friend. "I was warned that he would bite me and now he has. I owe Chris Hill and the victims an apology."
20th October 2004.
Dear fellow members of the Pattaya City Expat Club,
At a meeting on the 27th August 2004, Mr Drew Noyes, the former Chairman of our Pattaya City Expats Club asked me to write across my previous letter to you, that I had made some misstatements in its content.
This letter seeks to clarify the position and to correct any misstatements if indeed, such ever existed. It also serves as a warning to all members to be very careful indeed in dealing with Drew Noyes, a seemingly plausible but in our dealings with him, a deceitful and dishonest man. We ask you to warn each other in the Club not to get involved in any of his schemes and to avoid any projects he asks you to invest in.
My husband Barry and I first met Drew Noyes at a Pattaya City Expat Club meeting, he introduced himself as the Chairman of the Club and was interested in our 'First time member' comment that we intended to retire in Pattaya. The fact that he was the Chairman naturally affected the degree of trust we placed in him.
In the course of the year Drew Noyes asked us a number of times if we were interested in purchasing some condominiums he said he had in Thepprasit Road.
He offered us two condominiums in the same block as his Company, P.A.P.P.A Company Limited. He told us that if we paid a deposit of 2.6 million baht to Thai National Housing Authority, they would grant us interest free loans of 2.2 million. He stated that he was the sole agent for Thai National Housing Authority.
In December 2003, he asked us for the deposit of 2.6 million in cash because he said he had paid our deposit already to Thai National Housing Authority. We paid him this in cash.
We constantly asked for receipts or documentation related to the purchase. There was always some excuse for these documents not to be issued. Finally in March 2004, he gave me two pages written in Thai.
I needed a translation and asked Chris Hill, a Board Member, and the head of HelpLine Pattaya, to assist. He introduced me to a lawyer. On the 8th of April she began to investigate our purchase with officials at Thai National Housing Authority. She found that the 2.6 million deposit had never been paid by Drew Noyes, nor was it required. Nor was he any kind of agent for Thai National Housing Authority.
On Friday 9th of April my husband Barry received a call to urgently meet Drew Noyes at his PAPPA office. On arrival Drew Noyes told him a tissue of lies saying that I had visited Thai National Housing Authority, let me give you an excerpt from Barry's Statement (page 3, para 1-3) Barry stated, 'Drew Noyes asked me to visit with him at his office. He said that my wife Elena had been to Thai National Housing and was making a lot of trouble there. Drew said to me that he had spoken with the top man at Thai National Housing and was told that Elena had been saying they had cheated her and taken her money. Drew said she was saying they had taken corruption money. Drew said that this was serious because they were senior officials. It could end up with she and Barry being deported and sued. He (Drew Noyes) said she had told the officials that she had given 5 .1 million in cash and that it was missing. Drew had ready a note for my signature and said that the man from Thai National Housing had dictated it and it would do to calm everything down. I signed this note worried that my wife who has a temper may have caused a lot of trouble.
I was a bit worried I must say it did cross my mind that Drew was playing some game. I was at all the meetings with Drew and Elena about the apartments, but I didn't need to sign any documents so I wasn't totally certain why Drew wanted my signature.
Only later the next day I discovered that Drew Noyes had lied to me tricked me into signing this letter to protect my wife.
It turned out that my wife had never been to the office of Thai National Housing. Drew only made it up to get the letter. I told Drew at a meeting later that week that I was angry he had duped me and told him that that letter was null and void. My wife was very upset with the letter and I apologized to her. END.
I include this because I understand that Drew Noyes has been circulating the copy of the bogus letter which Barry signed in good faith.
As this whole sordid affair progressed we found that having people sign letters under duress was a part of his modus operandi. Some members of the Board may have seen the letter signed by Katrena Wonnasakda or Greg George which say that Drew is an honest and decent man who never engaged in fraud or deceit. Katrena Wonnasakda said this letter was signed simply because it was a condition of Drew Noyes returning 3.5 million baht of the 4 million baht he cheated Greg George of. She has since submitted a copy of this letter to the Police and retracted it.
At several meetings, noted and witnessed by at least three persons who have since signed full statements, Drew Noyes admitted his fraud, though at first he said that he had used our money to bribe Court officials and then later, officials of the Thai National Housing Authority.
On the 27th August this year, when under a contract negotiated by Chris Hill, I was to collect 2.1 million baht being the balance of the 2.6 million baht he had taken from me by fraud, he asked me to sign a virtually identical document. That document stated that Drew Noyes had always explained matters fully and clearly to me and that I agreed that there had never been any fraud or cheating. When I refused to sign these lies, Drew Noyes threatened me with libel for the letter I wrote to you previously and also told me that if I did not sign his deceitful letter I would not get the balance of the money he had defrauded me of. When I persisted in not signing his letter he told me that if I refused to sign it he could stop me leaving Thailand ever. Though this was very frightening I still refused to sign his tissue of lies. Finally my attorney said that if Drew Noyes did not have the contract honored we should go to the Police and swear out Complaints of threat and extortion as well as breach of contract. Drew Noyes immediately agreed to release my payment.
I have learned of the poor behavior of the Board of the Pattaya City Expat Club and in the close contacts which the Board still keeps with Drew Noyes.
I would urge members to consider what signal is sent to the community if we do not take action against a former Chairman who abused the formerly good name of the Pattaya City Expats Club.
Pattaya, 20th October 2004. Date:
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER HILL
To Whom It May Concern:
In the Matter of Drew W. Noyes
Former Chairman of the Pattaya City Expats Club,
Director of P.A.P.P.A. Co., Ltd
I, Christopher David Hill, British Citizen, do hereby solemnly swear that this statement is in all respects true to the best of my knowledge and belief. I believe that Mr Drew Noyes is a dishonest businessman and has lied to me, to members of the Pattaya City Expats Club, and has defrauded members. I believe he issued false letters and forced or co-erced the signature of other letters. I believe he lied to the Police in making his complaint against me and Michael Berris. I believe he has insulted Thai Court and Government officials by saying he paid bribes of 6.6 million baht to them in the presence of myself and other witnesses.
I first met Drew W. Noyes in 2002 when he was a member and subsequently Chairman of the Pattaya City Expats Club. (PCEC) He is a very charming and persuasive man and I liked him.
I was then and am now active in HelpLine Pattaya, a voluntary organization dedicated to helping people in trouble.
In 2003, I was invited to become a Member of the Board of the Pattaya City Expats Club. (PCEC)
In April 2004, I was asked by Mr and Mrs Barry Wilson-Singer, members of the PCEC to assist them with a problem related to monies taken from them by Mr Drew W. Noyes as a deposit for property which had been sold to them by Mr Drew W. Noyes. They had discovered that Mr Noyes had never paid the deposit to Thai National Housing Authority.
Mrs Elena Wilson-Singer had made a Police Complaint at the Tourist Police office on Friday 9th April accusing Mr Noyes of defrauding her.
I was given the task of having Mr Drew W. Noyes agree to return all the cash he had taken under false pretences. Mr Noyes insisted that the Police Complaint had to be withdrawn before he would negotiate.
I arranged a meeting of the parties at my home on the 10th April, the day after Mrs Elena Wilson made a Police Report about Drew Noyes. At thjs meeting, Mr Drew Noyes stated that the 2.6 million baht he had taken from Mr & Mrs Wilson-Singer as a cash deposit had been paid in bribes by him to Thai Court officials. At the second meeting, the following day, Mr Noyes changed this to 'œbribes paid to officials of Thai National Housing' being, he said, a Khun Opad and a Khun Pairot.
Mr Noyes told those at the meeting, Mr & Mrs Barry and Elena Wilson-Singer and myself, that paying such large bribes to Government or Court officials is a normal part of Thai business procedure. Mr and Mrs Wilson-Singer challenged Mr Noyes on these statements and said that they had never given him permission to engage in corruption on their behalf.
It is important to note that the properties sold by Mr Noyes to Mr & Mrs Barry Wilson-Singer belonged to the Thai Government. Mr Noyes said that he was the sole and exclusive agent for the Thai National Housing Authority. Khun Pairot of Thai National Housing Authority said that Mr Noyes was not an agent and did not have any exclusive rights of any kind.
I managed to achieve a settlement for the return of the 2.6 million baht taken by Mr Noyes from Mr & Mrs Wilson-Singer, 500,000 baht paid in cash in April 2004 and the balance of 2.1 million baht paid in cash on 27th August. Mr Drew Noyes said if he paid the money back in full he expected the story of the fraud to be described as a 'œbusiness misunderstanding'.
On the 20th May Mr Greg George, also a member of the Pattaya City Expats Club contacted me to say he had paid the Chairman of the Club, Mr Drew Noyes, the sum of 4 million baht as a deposit of a total purchase of 4.540,000 baht. The balance of 540,000 baht would be in the form of interest free loans which Mr Noyes would arrange with Thai National Housing Authority. Mr Greg George was told by Khun Pairot of Thai National Housing Authority that Mr Noyes had never paid any money to Thai National Housing Authority and indeed Mr George owed Thai National Housing 4,540,000 baht in loans. Khun Pairot told Mr George to go to his lawyer and to the Police because Mr Pairot said, Drew Noyes had done the same thing to Mr & Mrs Wilson-Singer.
Mr Greg George and I went to see Mr Drew Noyes at his office in P.A.P.P.A. Co. Ltd in Tepprasit Road. At first Mr Noyes refused me entry until Mr George told him that I had asked Mr George to seek settlement with Mr Noyes and not have him arrested as Pol Lt Col. Sitphon suggested.
Again in my presence with Mr George, Drew Noyes told Mr George that he had paid the 4 million baht in bribes. On this occasion Mr Noyes itemized the bribes which he said totaled 4 million baht. He said these bribes had been paid to Thai National Housing Authority officials. I said to Drew Noyes that if he insisted on telling lies we would just return to the Police and let them investigate. Mr Noyes then thanked me for rescuing him from arrest and promised to repay all the money he had taken from Mr George, the whole 4 million.
I said we would arrange a meeting with the attorney to finalise the repayment. For the next few weeks Mr Noyes said he would repay the money and made many promises to Mr George, but he failed to do so. Finally threatening him again with a Police investigation into his fraudulent dealings Mr Noyes paid Mr George the sum of 3.5 million baht.
As part of this transaction Drew Noyes demanded that Mr George sign a letter drafted by Drew Noyes saying that there was never any fraud and that Mr George must agree to never take any legal action against Drew Noyes. Mr Noyes also brought a letter for the attorney, Khun Katrena Wonnasakda to sign saying she knew that all transactions done by Mr Noyes were honest and there was no fraud. Khun Katrena says that in order to protect the interests of her client, Mr Greg George, because Mr Noyes said if she did not sign this letter, he would not pay her client or her fees, she signed the letter.
Mr Noyes subsequently used this letter as evidence that he had never defrauded either the Wilson-Singers or Greg George. Mr Noyes had copies made of this letter and gave these to members of the PCEC.
Shortly after this Drew Noyes made a complaint against me and a member of PCEC who insisted on full disclosure of the event to Club members, for defaming him in that I said he committed acts of fraud.