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"A penny for your thoughts"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra 's wife convicted

Recap:Thaksin and Pojaman's three lawyers got caught red hand bribing the supreme courts of justice. They were sentenced to jail. That was an ominous sign for Thaksin. Later a criminal court returned a verdict of Pojaman, of tax evasion, to be jailed for three years. Days later, Thaksin and Pojaman jumped bails and issued a statement from London to announce through Thai TVs his decision to seek asylum in UK in an attempt to avoid what he called "unfair" treatment under Thailand's current judicial system.

Mon, Sep 01, 2008 Thaksin sells his Manchester City Club to Abu Dhabi United Group.Thaksin will be an honourary president with no administrative power.ADUG will be represented on the new board of Manchester City by Hydra Properties CEO Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim.Source: ASIAONE

Thai PM says Thaksin can keep passport
22 August 2008 VIA
Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej government would not revoke ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's diplomatic passport but was in the process of invalidating Thaksin's red diplomatic passport, given to former Thai leaders, after he skipped bail and fled to Britain last week to evade graft charges.

Video:Thousands of protesters clad in bright yellow marched through central Bangkok to the British embassy on Tuesday 19th August 2008 to demand the extradition of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra.The protesters were led by Sondhi Limthongkul, a key figure in the PAD which orchestrated mass street protests leading to Mr Thaksin's ousting from office in the bloodless coup.

Ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will seek political asylum in Britain, claiming that he and his family are not safe in Thailand, his lawyer said Wednesday 20th August,2008.

Video:Thaksin and his wife fled corruption charges in Thailand, choosing exile in the UK, where he is the owner of Manchester City, a Premier league football club which prestigious title may now be in jeopardy, as Al Jazeera's Richard Bestic reports,18th August 2008.

18th August 2008
Thailand police put up posters of arrest warrants after the former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Sinawatra fled the country where he faces corruption charges. He and his wife have both been added to Thailand's most wanted list.The posters made headlines and frontpage news in the vast majority of Thai papers on Saturday, and are also pasted ubiquitously, at police stations, immigration checkpoints and even toilets.VIA
Nearly 200 members of the current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's own political party, the People's Power Party, have vehemently criticised the premier for sanctioning the circulation. Most of them are Thaksin followers.

Mon Aug 11, 2008 Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Khunying Potjamarn have fled to London and will not be back for their court cases.
The couple's departure for China with a large amount of luggage immediately after the verdict sparked rumours they were going into exile. Analysts say it was probably the prospect of his wife doing jail time that forced Thaksin, who had been on bail of 8 million baht ($237,000), to leave the country.The couple were to catch Thai Airways International Flight 615, due to arrive in Bangkok at 9:45pm on Sunday. But TG615 left Beijing and arrived back in Bangkok on Sundaty evening without the high-level passengers on board.His three children are said to have left for London on Saturday.

The policeman-turned-telecommunication billionaire was supposed to testify at the Supreme Court on Monday, skipped bail and went into exile, in connection with a 772mil-baht land purchase at Rachadaphisek Road here six years ago.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is seeking political asylum in Britain, alleging that political enemies who removed him in a 2006 coup were interfering in the courts to “finish off” him and his family. In a hand-written statement faxed to Thai television stations, Mr. Thaksin apologized to the Supreme Court and the public for failing to make a required appearance in a corruption case involving him and his wife, Potjaman.

The AEC found that there were irregularities in several cases, including the purchase of 1.5bil-baht CTX 9000 scanners for the new airport, the taxfree 73bil-baht sale of Shin Corporation to Temasek in January last year, the two- and three-digit lottery project worth 37.8bil baht and the exemption of telecom firms having to pay concession fees worth 30.7bill baht.($1=33.66 Baht) His criticism of the courts is also likely to jeopardise any bid to get his hands on more than $2 billion in Thai bank accounts frozen since the coup, which was widely believed to have been orchestrated by Thailand's royalist, military elite.

His decision to flee rather than fight a slew of corruption charges logged since the coup helped pushed the stock market 3 percent higher on hopes political temperatures might cool down after three years of turmoil.

Analysts said it could mean the government that came to power in December elections on the back of Thaksin's rural popularity might get a break from round-the-clock, anti-Thaksin street protests and be able to concentrate on the economy.

However, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the motley group of royalists, businessmen and Bangkok middle-classes united by their hatred of Thaksin, said it was not going to give up until the six-party coalition fell.

In the first verdict in a series of corruption cases aimed at the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his wife was convicted Thursday Jul 31 2008 of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in prison.

Thursday's case centers on a 1997 transfer of shares in Shinawatra Computer, the company that later became Shin Corp. -- Thailand's biggest telecommunications company -- before it was sold in 2006 to a Singapore state-owned company for $2.2 billion.

The share transfer was valued at 738 million baht -- about $22.2 million at the current exchange rate -- and deemed tax-free. The family had listed the deal as a transfer of shares carried out within the stock market, which is exempt from capital gains taxes.

Pojaman, through her lawyer, said she bought the shares from a family maid and transferred them to her adopted brother, Bhanapot Damapong, as a gift, which under Thai law is not taxable.

Thailand's Assets Examination Committee determined last year, however, that a check issued to the maid was later deposited in a new bank account belonging to Thaksin's wife.

The committee said Pojaman and her brother had misrepresented the nature of the transaction to avoid paying taxes and should pay back taxes of about 654 million baht (16.3 million US dollars). Thaksin was not implicated in the tax evasion case.

Thaksin was known to have transferred shares in Shin Corp., his telecommunications empire, to his maid, chauffeur, relatives and others to shed holdings before becoming prime minister in 2001 to skirt conflict of interest laws.

The criminal court also convicted Pojaman's adopted brother, Bhanapot Damapong, and her secretary, Kanchana Honghern, for the same crime in the landmark verdict delivered.

All three have pleaded innocent.

Pojaman, known for her taste in designer clothes and coifed hair, wore a blue blouse and pearl necklace for the court appearance.

All three were hauled before the courts for evading payments worth 654 million baht (16.3 million US dollars) in taxes in a share transfer in 1997 in the Shiawatra's flagship telecommunication business.

But Pojaman was immediately released after posting 149,000 dollars in bail. And her plans to challenge the verdict, first going before the Appeals Court and then the Supreme Court, was revealed soon after.

Today's verdict comes nearly seven years after the Shinawatras faced their last major battle in court. Then, Thaksin, who was a billionaire telecoms tycoon, was accused of concealing his assets. That August 2001 verdict, coming six months after he had taken office as prime minister, declared him innocent, with the judges ruling 7-6 in his favour. This led to the tens of thousands of Thais who took to Bangkok's streets to protest against the Thaksin administration in early 2006 charged it for alleged corrupt deals, in addition to nepotism and the abuse of power.

Currently, Thaksin is facing three cases, with a fourth to follow, a lawsuit alleging Thaksin Shinawatra used his influence to extend the US$127 million government loan to Myanmar in exchange for satellite services and orders of satellite equipment from the company.The complaint brought by the Assets Examination Committee, said a 2004 low-interest loan to Myanmar by the state-controlled Export-Import Bank of Thailand was meant to benefit the Shin Satellite company, then owned by Thaksin's family.(the telecommunications giant owned by the Shinawatras that has since been sold to Singapore's Temasak group.)The deal caused the bank to lose 670 million baht ($20 million), the panel alleged. The first hearing is set for Sept. 16, a court statement said.

Three other pending cases include conflict of interest and malfeasance charges related to his wife's purchase of a piece of prime Bangkok real estate in 2003. She bought the land from a state agency despite an anti-corruption law barring politicians and their spouses from doing business with government offices.

On Monday 28th July, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving Thaksin and members of his cabinet over a decision to launch a government lottery scheme in 2003. It came while Thaksin and his wife are facing a case in another court looking into the questionable sale of a plot of prime property in Bangkok.

Four corruption cases have been filed against Mr. Thaksin, two against his wife and three against two of his children.

The prevailing signs of a more assertive and independent judiciary do not bode well for the current government of Prime Minster Samak Sundaravej, who led a party heavily backed by Thaksin to victory at last December's general elections. Already three cabinet members have been forced to resign over legal issues, and three more may face the same fate if the courts rule against them.

06 Aug 2008
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is expected to reshuffle his cabinet this week to try to turn the tide of criticism against his government, which has ranged from its handling of the economy to a nationalist spat with Cambodia over an ancient Hindu temple. Samak has kept unusually quiet about his new line-up, saying only that it will involve 10 portfolios, although the media are speculating it will contain a host of Thaksin loyalists keen on his brand of big-spending, populist government.


Thaksin's British Football Club
06 Aug 2008
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Manchester City's owner currently facing corruption charges with reports suggest that Shinawatra is toying with the idea of either selling the club outright or bringing in fresh investment at Eastlands.

According to reports, financial parties have been approached about the possibility of buying the club, as Shinawatra looks to find ways of coping with life without £800 milion of frozen assets back in Bangkok.

Shinawatra, 59, has spent close to £70 million on transfers and wiped off £50 million of the club's debt since joining Manchester City.

He saw manager Sven-Goran Eriksson start last season in fine style, but the performances on the pitch soon dissappeared and City finished in eighth place.

It was an unsettling time as the season ended, with speculation mounting over Eriksson's future as Shinawatra refused to back the Swede.

Matters came to a head on the final day of the season when City were thrashed 8-1 by Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

However, since the appointment of Mark Hughes from Blackburn, the club have been successful in the transfer market.

Hughes recently acquired Jo from CSKA Moscow for £19 million and Tal Ben Haim for a £5 million fee from Chelsea.

They are also reportedly close to selling £7.5 million-rated Croatia defender Vedran Corluka to Tottenham. VIA

Related Post:
Thaksin inciting street battles with an arrest warrant

3/10/08 Ex-PM Thaksin faces new Thailand graft charges
2/28/08Thaksin returns to face charges today

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