Thai court strips ex-Prime Minister of $1.4 billion

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Friday, February 26, 2010

File photo of Thai ex-PM Thaksin (right) meeting with Donald Rumsfeld in 2005.
Image: DoD photo by Helene C. Stikkel.

Thailand's Supreme Court today ruled that the family of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra be stripped of 46.3 billion baht (US$1.4 billion) in frozen assets, more than half of a contested $2.3 billion fortune. According to the court, the seized assets were illegally gained while Thaksin was Prime Minister; specifically, his familial involvement and connections with Shin Corporation.

In a statement released by the court, the judges said that Thaksin had adjusted government policies to favor telecommunications businesses, including Shin Corporation, a large telecommunications company owned by Thaksin, and his family, and sold to a Singapore investment firm in 2006. Additionally, Thaksin was alleged to have deposited shares held in Shin Corporation with family members whilst in office - a move to avoid, under Thai law, illegally holding any company stock while Prime Minister. Additionally, he was found to have unfairly promoted a $127 million loan to Burma – benefiting a satellite communications firm controlled by his family.

In a response from an undisclosed location outside Thailand, Thaksin contested the ruling, claiming the case was politically motivated and that, "the court was used to get rid of a politician." In his remarks, he said that he came by his wealth legally, and he would continue his fight against both the ruling and the party that ousted him in 2008. In Thailand, Thaksin's red-shirted supporters publicly opposed the verdict; although, no significant disturbances have been reported despite government warnings over the possibility violence. Instead, protesters say they plan a mass demonstration against the ruling sometime in March.


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