A ROTARY CLUB CONMAN – & THE ANATOMY OF A THAI PROPERTY SCAM (CONTD)
Richard Haughton – the fat cat of Thai Media & Property Exhibition Co., Ltd – is back in Thailand after successfully avoiding investors he had ripped off .When they come he goes. Here one of his victims tells of what happened when she came to view her property in Thailand.
Haughton, left, old friend and partner of David Ames, whose Ponzi scams in the Carribean are being exposed on a daily basis, has actually been removed, or rather removed himself from TPME and others, believing that will absolve his companies of any guilt – but he’s still up to his old tricks apparently confident, and cashing in on so called ‘maintenance and service agreements.’
Recently he has been living in Lake Villas seemingly laughing at people who bought there. If people complain – there’s a baseball bat in the front office – I’m hoping that’s for use against intruders.
Haughton, a partner in Harlequin (Thailand) with David Ames, has resurrected the Harlequin name again in Pattaya.
The Ex-President of the Rotary Club, Pattaya-Jomtien, 2010-2011, is ‘officially’ out but appears to be controlling everything as a ‘consultant’. The legal firm – Limcharoen Glanville & Hughes, are advising Headland Holdings which includes two Brits called Paul Salisbury and Nicholas Pearce, who also have colourful histories.
Victims at Haughton’s Emerald Plaza are struggling to get their homes back and owners at Lake Villas are struggling to gain control over their properties.
I live in a mubaan (village) on the outskirts of Bangkok, built about 7 years ago. For a 5 million baht house I pay 700 baht a month in maintenance and service fees – and that cash pays for street cleaning, grass and hedge cutting and lawn mowing, lighting and guards.
We successfully took over from the developers – in this case Yingluck Shinawatra – and we run our own estate, as is normal.
Now read this letter from Nasrat Fletcher from the U.K. who bought a lease only on a property in ‘Lake Villas’ where ‘owners’ are paying quadruple.
But before you do here’s the following advice for buyers or people intending to lease property in Thailand.
- Be especially cautious when buying into housing estates designed for foreigners. Live where the Thais live. They will look after you too and you will not need to take the following advice.
- Never let any ‘foreign’ developer continue to run the management of your estate. Residents should always run their own affairs.
- Never buy off plan unless the seller is blood related, or you are prepared to shoot him.
- Do not invest more than you are prepared to lose.
So far Haughton has been exposed for pocketing investor funds, cutting off services to people who will not pay his rates, and defrauding people with false bills – and these bills defy the imagination. He has several units in Lake Villas and doesn’t bother paying silly things like maintenance while others pay through the nose.
So here is Nusrat’s letter. I am publishing it in its entirety because actually this is quite a typical case and indicative of what is happening in many parts of Thailand and some of the figures may be useful to those who might be being scammed elsewhere.
“ My recent visit to Thailand, was an eye opener for me. I have purchased my property along with many other people off plan, which was initially presented to me by Harlequin Properties an Essex based firm.
Since the properties have been built I have not once been out to visit them, until 20th April 2012. This was an unplanned trip, only after speaking to a friend who also owned property in Pattaya, when I explained my situation of not receiving any rental income, he insisted I contact Richard Haughton when I emailed Richard Haughton enquiring about the status of my rental income it was bought to my attention that he was deducting the maintenance cost from my rental, shortly after I was sent a set of accounts which made no sense to me at all, as I was billed for office stationary, phone usage, security, and also insurance.
From here when I was emailing Richard Haughton & Rada the manager I was not getting the answers to my questions, and this caused me great distress and worries as to whether there actually was such a property I had purchased and what was going on.
I had many different questions and I was not getting the correct answers, or should I say I was not getting the answers I wanted, after speaking to my friend whom put me in touch with his agent, whom I informed as to my situation so I was asked to forward all my deeds and company register book to them which I did. Upon first sight of the documentation I was informed that the documentation was not valid and as I had not visited the property the property had never been signed over to me.
Obviously this caused me great concern so on the 20th April 2012 I took a trip out to Pattaya I did plan to stay at Lake Villa Resort, I emailed Richard Haughton to inform him of my visit and he informed me right at the last minute he won’t be in town when I come, however when I questioned him regarding my accounts and my house documents I got told by him a manager will be available to present these documents to me. With a negative approach from him I decided it would be best for me to stop elsewhere.
Prior to me landing in Thailand my Friend had already been up to Lake Villas to find out about the current status and if there was any rental properties available and they got told there was no properties available for rental as they are all full, when they enquired about the cost of rental they got told it was 10,000bht per month with an additional cost of maintenance at 3,000bht this information was given to my friend by Joe who is another so called manager.
Upon my arrival in Thailand the above information was presented to me for a heads up. On Monday we went up to Lake Villas and gave Joe a shock of her life when my Tai Agent informed her that I was the owner of 9B, I asked to view my property and she refused to let me view my property and I them demanded to view my property and advised her that I would get the police and my lawyer involved if she did not let me view my property.
She them told us to wait and she would speak to the client whom was renting the property, as she went out I took some snaps.
She returned saying we could view the property. (see attachments) Upon viewing the property and speaking to the client I was informed that they are very slow at responding to complaints and they had to repeatedly keep asking.
When I asked the tenant if he would consider changing agents and to deal directly with myself, and if he had any maintenance problems to contact my local agent (Ja), he was extremely happy with this course of action and just wanted the problems actioning immediately.
The problems were only minor eg. The power box only had a low voltage fuse which kept being replaced by another low voltage fuse until the tenant fitted a higher voltage fuse himself which solved the problem.
Another issue which was raised was the furniture. The property was unfurnished when the tenant moved in despite the fact that we had purchased a £5000 furniture package and paid for water and electric meters from Richard Haughton. (See Attachment)
The customer also brought to our attention an air-conditioning box which had been removed, another air-conditioning unit was leaking and has been reported but not actioned. The heater box in one of the bathrooms had been removed and once again this had been reported but not actioned. (See Attachment)
The tenant also stated “why should I stay in my own property whereas I can stay here and rent my own property out as this resort is so cheap?”
After the viewing we arranged an appointment to speak to Rada as Richard Haughton had advised me in a previous e-mail, when it was brought to his attention that I was visiting, that all my accounts would be available to see in the office. When I asked to view them Jo shrugged her shoulders and said she didn’t know anything and we would have to arrange a meet with Rada, this was arranged for Wednesday 25th April. At the meeting with Rada rental issues were raised, accounts were presented, but she was unable to identify why or what the extra charges ie office stationery, phone and security, were.
I was informed that there was cheap security available at night time only, no insurance in place and Mr Ian (Cousins) had ruined the rental structure for the villas, however only last week Rada has put a villa on rent for 12000 Baht. When asked if there was any scope for further development we were informed that LVOA thought they could take over the management and were unsuccessful due to setting a high budget of 25000 Baht per property.
I informed Rada that I would be going back and presenting my findings to everyone and asked if she could give me a breakdown of the 3000 baht maintenance charge and where it was being spent. She was unable to provide this breakdown. Rada also stated that as no-one was paying the maintenance fees she was having to pay them out of her own pocket.
I have had all the unknown 6 thai people removed as directors of the company and have replaced them with myself, my husband, at 49% and my agent at 51%, also it was brought to my attention that 2 years company taxes had not been paid and a police case was filed against me,
I have personally visited the tax office with my agent in Chon Buri, Pattaya and paid my fines and changed my company details so nothing is now linked to Richard Haughton. I have also transferred my tenants rental agreement which is now with myself and my Agent (Ja) has taken over the responsibility for my property maintenance, and rental.
Research & Findings
Whilst I was out there I was introduced to a Thai agent named Ja who is has worked Estate industry for many years, and has experience in many different fields, specialising in law & legal, Ja is currently working Pattaya Services and Business Center, she is aware of the current situation of Lake Villas and also has worked closely with certain members of the LVOA.
I have gathered some realistic prices which are fully inclusive of the maintenance service offered.
To Check documents are up to date and correct 7,000 baht for studio 10,000 for villa as the villas have a company.
Rental:- 1mth – 5mth commission is charged at 20% / If rental is for 6mths then commission is based on half of one month’s rental cost / If rental is based on 12 months then commission is based on 1 month therefore we get 11 months agent gets 1 month.
Contract we get 2 months deposit 1 month stays with the company i.e your agent and 1 month comes to owner the reason the money will stay with the agent is in case the contract is broken due to bad health or they have to leave for any reason.
To check and update company register 1,500 1 yr balance sheet 15,000 2 yrs balance sheet and clear any charges 18,000 going forward every year balance sheet 15,000 change manager & stamp 10,000, 107 baht electric fee when the property is empty / 100 baht water fee when property is empty.
When customer leaves the house Ja wants 1500 baht to give the house a good scrub and change and wash all sheets, there after to keep on top of this every month with regular updates for a studio it is 500bht and a villa 1000bht.
Grass Cutting each Villa 500-1500 per month
To clean the pool and check 2 times a week 4,000 per month this is the total and not per property.”
So there you have it – one buyer’s experience. I found it quite illuminating and well put together for others sharing the same experience.