Long time Danish resident stuck in Thai immigration detention in complicated case

Stig Wulff
Stig Wulff in a photo from July 2021. Photo: FaceBook.

Mr Stig Wulff, a 65 years old Dane, is currently held in the detention center of the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok, He is caught in a conflicting situation between the court in Samui and the immigration bureau.

Stig Wulff moved in 2009 to Thailand and shortly after he became the co-owner and managing director of the P. Trower Co., Ltd. on Koh Phang-an. The business of the company was to own and manage a resort on Koh Phang-an, Suan Sawan Ocean View.

In 2019, Stig forged the signature of his British business partner and transferred all his shares in their jointly owned company to his Thai wife whom he had married in 2013. Stig also signed over his own shares to her. The purpose of signing over all their shares to Stig’s wife was for the company to be able to obtain a loan. After the transaction, Stig’s Thai wife owned 75 percent of the company with the remaining 25 percent owned by a handful of Thai minority shareholders.

The company needed the loan, because the company had for years not paid taxes and VAT correctly, and the accumulated debt was 1,5 mill. THB which the Revenue Department wanted paid back in one amount. ScandAsia has not attempted to ask the auditor firm of the company how this could happen.

According to Stig, his British partner would not help pay the tax debt, so instead Stig and his wife first tried to borrow in the bank of the company, Kasikornbank, but this was declined. Eventually they found a private lender willing to extend a loan, which went to pay back the many years of debt to the Thai Revenue Department.

The Revenue Department had at the time already confiscated the property but when the tax backlog was paid, the resort was released back to the ownership of the company. At this time, the property was once again used as collateral for a second loan – on the condition that the whole resort would be the property of the lender unless the loan was paid back before a certain deadline.

Then Covid came. The Thai borders closed in 2020 and the company did not have enough income to pay back the private lender. According to Stig Wulff, the British partner declined once again to help and eventually, the company lost ownership of the resort.

The British partner then in the same year 2020 filed a criminal lawsuit against the Dane and his Thai wife for falsifying his signature. He denied that he had ever agreed to this. Now he had lost his company and the main assets of the company and he claimed 34 mill. THB in damages.

When the case came before the court in Koh Samui, the Dane failed to provide his lawyer with all the evidence he had in his possession that the transfer of shares was by mutual consent. Consequently, the court suggested a compromise, that Stig and his wife should pay back part of the amount claimed by the British partner. The amount was negotiated to 17 mill. THB and the Dane agreed that he should pay back 200.000 THB per month. He could raise this, if he was allowed to take a job at a friend’s company in Austria.

Surprisingly, Stig Wulff’s lawyer was able to obtain the court’s permission so that Stig could leave the country and fly to Austria in order to fulfil the compromise.

“I was not aware at that time that Stig’s visa had already expired,” his lawyer Suwatchai Sawasdee, owner of the law firm Suwatchai Nititham, Nakhon Ratchasima, explains to ScandAsia.

Stig was already in the airport with a ticket ready to fly to Austria when he was apprehended by the immigration office in the airport and told to go back to Koh Samui to settle this between the court and the immigration in Koh Samui.

While trying to solve this problem, the first month passed, Stig had not paid the first instalment of 200.00 THB and the British partner informed the court that Stig and his wife had breached the agreement. Consequently, the court sentenced Stig and his wife to each 5 years in prison, which the lawyer managed to get reduced to 2,5 years each.

His lawyer immediately appealed the verdict to the appeals court. That way, Stig and his wife could right away be released on bail as long as the case was still pending. Stig went back to live at her father’s house in Nakhon Ratchasima, where Stig moved with his then five year old daughter while his wife stayed in Koh Phang-and went back to work in a restaurant.”

Then someone in Nakhon Ratchasima informed the local immigration bureau, that there was a Danish man overstaying his visa at the fathers address and they picked him up and transferred him first to the immigration detention center in Suan Phlu in Bangkok and from there to a similar facility near the Police Club on Vibhavadi.

Today, Tuesday 17 October 2023, Mr. Suwatchai went to see him to inform him of his current situation. He brought two pieces of good news: If Stig can raise an amount of 120.000 THB, he will be temporarily released from the Immigration Detention Center while his case at the appeals court is pending. And the appeals court will on 21 December 2023 reach the verdict in his case.

At that point, the lawyer estimates however, that it is most likely that the verdict is upheld and Stig and his wife will have to serve their prison sentences. The evidence, which Stig has in the meantime provided, shows that the partner was aware and had approved the forgery but this has no consequence because in a Thai appeals court no new evidence may be submitted. The judges only evaluate the case as it was presented in the first court instance, plus the appeal document written by the lawyer of the accused and the response written by the plaintiff’s lawyer.

Should they uphold the verdict, Mr. Suwatchai says, he will apply to the highest appeals court that the case is reviewed by this court as well and if approved, Stig may be released on bail during the time it takes for this court to reach a verdict. If not approved, they will have to serve their sentences.

Should they, less likely, on 21 December reach the conclusion that Stig and his wife did commit the forgery, but can be released on probation, he is of course free to go. Except he must first pay the fine for his overstay, leave the country and most likely be banned from re-entering Thailand for a number of years. Unless his responsibility for caring for the couple’s six year old daughter would be evaluated as reason enough to allow him to return right away.

Stig Wulff lawyer Suwatchai Sawasdee
Mr. Suwatchai Sawasdee, Stig Wulff’s lawyer, with ScandAsia’s Editor Gregers Moller and a co-lawyer in his law firm, Mrs. Parichat Rittikan. To the right is her brother, Mr. Akkachet Taengsopha. who volunteered to be the interpreter when Mr. Suwatchai  met Mr. Stig Wulff at the Thai Immigration Detention Center on Tuesday 17 October 2023.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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