The managing director of Italian-Thai Development, the largest construction firm in Thailand, was arrested for poaching protected species in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi in early hours of Sunday, officials said today.
Premchai Karnasuta and three others — two men and one woman — reportedly camped in the prohibited area of the sanctuary on Saturday night, prompting officials investigate, according to the statement from Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
They were found with the carcass of a black panther, which had been skinned, a Kalij pheasant, and a barking deer — all of which are protected species in Thailand.
Official also seized two rifles, a shotgun, and ammunition. The group was taken to the Thong Pa Phum police station early Sunday morning.
The four suspects have been charged with hunting protected animals, hunting in the wildlife sanctuary, possessing the carcasses of protected species, bringing hunting equipment into the wildlife sanctuary without permission, and collecting forest products. Pending investigation, they may also be charged under the Firearm Act.
Premchai, 63, is the son of Chaijudh Karnasuta, a co-founder of the Italian-Thai Development company. The company manages construction projects including highways, bridges, ports, airport terminal buildings, resort development, and mining operations in several countries.
According to Forbes, Premchai and his sibling, Nijaporn, were ranked together as the 35th richest people in Thailand in 2016. They fell off the list last year after Italian-Thai Development saw its shares fall 35 percent when the government delayed infrastructure spending.