Thaksin facing graft charges

Former Thai PM faces charges over land purchase worth millions of dollars

    If convicted Thaksin and his wife could
    face up to 10 years in jail [EPA]
    The committee's recommendation late on Monday is the latest move in attempts to indict Thaksin, his family and colleagues on corruption charges.
    The deposed leader was accused of massive corruption during his two terms in office, and the military cited graft allegations as one of the key justifications for staging a bloodless coup last September.
    In 2003, Thaksin's wife, Pojamarn, bought prime Bangkok real estate from the Financial Institutions Development Fund, a state rescue fund directed by the central bank.
    The land value reportedly doubled two months later.
    "Mr Thaksin and his wife violated article 152 of the criminal law, which deals with conflict of interest, for illegally benefiting from state property," Udom said on Tuesday.
    He said Thaksin would be allowed to testify in person, in writing or through an official the panel will send to meet him abroad.
    A criminal court, however, must still determine whether to accept the case.
    Thaksin was overseas during the coup and has not returned to Thailand since.
    Questionable deals
    The $23 m land deal is among 13 cases being probed by military-appointed panels.
    Last month, the anti-graft committee recommended that criminal charges be filed against Pojamarn and her brother for tax evasion amounting to almost $15 million on a 1997 transfer of shares in the family business.
    The case involved the transfer of stock in the telecoms firm, later known as Shin Corp, through the Shinawatras' maid.
    News of the possible charges came as Shin Corp announced net profit for 2006 had plunged by 60 per cent.
    Thaksin's family sold its majority stake in the company to Singapore's Temasek in January 2006 for $1.9 bn.
    The deal drew widespread protests and exacerbated a political crisis sparked street protests and eventually led to Thaksin's ouster.
    Critics attacked the deal because they said it placed strategic assets, including communications satellites, in the hands of foreigners, and because it was structured to avoid taxes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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