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Bringing Thaksin to his knees

Updated On: Jun 26, 2007

It is now unequivocal. Thaksin must return to Thailand next week to face the police summons regarding the asset concealment related to their shareholdings in SC Asset Plc or be extradited.

This announcement by Thai Justice Minister Charnchai Likitjitta over the weekend came amid Thaksin's triumphant purchase of ManchesterCity. Charnchai announced to the media, “Thaksin must return toThailandto defend himself against the allegations. If he does not show up, then there could be an arrest warrant. And if he still does not come back, the attorney general will notify foreign countries to extradite him.”

This has been reiterated by Thai Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum over the weekend. Reuters reported Chalongphob saying, “If Thaksin were to be found guilty under criminal law, we have some agreements with other countries on extraditing.”

True to form, Thaksin is not giving up without a fight. He is adamant about not returning to Thailandand be an easy target of persecution by the junta. This has led head of the Council of National Security (CNS) Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin to suspect that he will flee to a country without an extradition treaty with Thailand, the Nation noted. Additionally, Thaksin plans to sue the Thai government for the restoration of his assets. He told Reuters, “It's my money, my family money. They have no right to take it. We will sue them anyway. We have to sue otherwise we cannot get our money back.” He also stated that his absence from Thailanddid not matter as his wife and children would “fight the case”.

Amid this furore, Thaksin is now officially the “saviour” of Manchester City, having bought the club for 81.6-million pounds and wiping out 60 million pounds of its debt last Thursday, 21 June, the Straits Times reported. He has also declared his new nickname, urging fans to call him Thaksin “Sinatra”. He said, “I understand people have difficulty pronouncing my surname. So just call me Sinatra. I don't care, as long as the fans welcome me. I will not disappoint them.”

Thaksin also boasted of his grand plans and proposed investments to bring the club to the top of the league and increasing its popularity in Asia. He said, “People in Asiaknow this club very well and my takeover will make it even more popular. I know that United and Liverpoolare very big there. But I believe we can be as big as them in Asiawithin the next two or three seasons. If we come across many magical players and need them, we have to invest. If necessary, 50 million pounds, or it could be 20 million pounds, 30 million pounds.”

If the Thai government has its way, Thaksin's football jubilation will soon disappear. Despite Thaksin's protests that the money used to buy the club is “clean”, the authorities are not convinced. The Nation reported that the Asset Examination Committee (AEC) is “ready to investigate the money trail of the Bt5.7 billion” that went into the purchase.

If there is any indication of things to come, more of Thaksin's assets will be under probe. The Nation reported Thai Ambassador to Singapore Chalermpol Thanchitt saying, “We have been told that he has some property here [in Singapore], but I have not been instructed to follow up on that.” (25 June 2007)

Sources:

Sonthi admits possibility Thaksin would flee to country without extradition treaty with Thailand(Nation, 25 June 2007)

Thailandcould seek Thaksin extradition for crimes (Reuters, 24 June 2007)

AEC to look into source of money (Nation, 24 June 2007)

Minister: Thaksin can face extradition (Bangkok Post, 23 June 2007)

Thaksin vows to sue Bangkokover frozen assets (Reuters, 22 June 2007)