Phuket Mystery Island -Ultra Villa or Casino?
Last week's media frenzy of the raid by the government of a building site on Rang Noi Island off of Phuket's East Coast looks to be a story in the making.
There remains much conjecture whether the construction is for a private ultra villa or an alleged illegal casino.
At the forefront of the American John Baldwin and his Bridge Capital investment firm. Baldwin is well known for purportedly acquiring ownership interests in significant beachfront property in both Phuket and Phang Nga over a long period of time.
At the same time Bridge is an investor in a casino project in nearby Laos. This has led to the assumption that the firm or individuals could be involved in what has been tagged as a possible casino operation off the coast of the island.
Investigating the project is the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division of the Thai government.
This story looks to drag out but given other recent public disputes at Freedom Beach, Barama Bay (Jumeirah Private Island) and Istana, luxury real estate land sites are increasingly coming under the scrutiny of both the private and public sector.
For foreign investors, land ownership remains a gray area and the current government of Yingluck Shinawatra has done little to reform either longer term leases or offer any type of mechanism to counter the volatile nominee system in place.
Perhaps it can best be summed up at the moment as "damned if you do, damned if you don't."