Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra will face charges of abusing power by converting telecom concessions to benefit Shin Corp. His actions, undertaken while serving as prime minister, are said to have caused damage to the state worth Bt66 billion (about US$2Billion).
Thailand’s attorney-general Chaikasem Nitisiri filed a criminal lawsuit against and, after an initial delay, on 11 July took up the policy corruption case at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders. The case was investigated by the Assets Examination Committee (AEC).
The lawsuit alleges that Thaksin violated the law by holding state concessions through his stock-ownership concealment in Shin Corp while he was prime minister. It also says that Thaksin gained unusual wealth in Shin Corp by having state agencies convert the telecom concessions to excise tax to benefit Shin Corp. TOT and CAT Telecom, who awarded the concessions to the subsidiaries of Shin, stood to lose Bt41.95 billion and Bt25.99 billion respectively from the conversion of the concessions.
Thaksin and his wife Khunying Pojaman are already on trial in a separate case involving Pojaman's purchase of a prime plot in the Rachadaphisek area from the Financial Institutions Development Fund. The Shin Corp case however may be more damaging to Thaksin because it involves alleged stock concealment, tax evasion and policy corruption to increase the value of Shin stocks.
The AEC has found that Thaksin and Pojaman still owned Shin Corp throughout the time Thaksin was serving as prime minister between February 2001 up to the sale of the company in January 2006. The couple allegedly used their children Panthongtae and Pinthongta, Pojaman's brother Banaphot Damapong, and Thaksin's sister Yingluck, as well as Ample Rich Investment Ltd and Win Mark Ltd as nominees to conceal their real ownership of 1,419 million shares, or about 49 per cent, in Shin Corp.
The Supreme Court will form a panel to consider the Shin deal before ruling on whether to accept the suit.
Source: The Nation, 12 July, Thaksin on graft charges