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Monday, September 10, 2007

Illegally Move?

Thaksin 'moved billions abroad'

AEC spokesman says funds were shifted shortly before, after coup

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra transferred "a large amount of money" to his overseas bank accounts shortly before and after the military coup on September 19 last year, Assets Examination Committee secretary Kaewsan Atibodhi said yesterday after the panel's meeting on "a very big issue".

The total amount could be "at least Bt50 billion", according to an AEC source.

Kaewsan did not comment whether the money could be part of Thaksin's undeclared assets or whether it might be subject to AEC seizure.

The anti-graft panel has ordered a freeze on more than Bt60 billion in Thaksin family money earned from the sale of their shares in the telecom giant Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings.

Thaksin has never said publicly whether he has monetary assets in overseas bank accounts.

Speaking after attending a five-hour meeting of AEC members yesterday, Kaewsan said Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont had been informed of the newly discovered transfers of money and had authorised the making public of the matter after another AEC meeting to further discuss the issue on Monday.

The transfers became known after Thaksin threatened to sue banks for allegedly freezing some of his money deposited with them, according to a Swiss newspaper.

A legal adviser for Thaksin Shinawatra, Noppadon Pattama, on Thursday backtracked on Thaksin's reported statement, saying that the article was inaccurate. He denied that Thaksin had told Swiss newspaper Mittelland Zeitung he would sue a Swiss bank for freezing his accounts and revealing a customer's confidential records.

Prime Minister Surayud, who was in Sydney, yesterday told Thai expatriates there that Thai people should not worry about a possible return of "the old power clique", referring to political groups loyal to his deposed predecessor.

"We have to be firm that good will eventually defeat evil. Not too long from now our justice procedures will show a clear picture that there was a massive policy of corruption," the PM was quoted as saying by the Thai News Agency.

He noted that concern was rising after the national referendum on the draft constitution, in which as many as 10 million people voted against it, many of them Thaksin's supporters in the North and Northeast.

The premier was talking to about 300 members of the Thai expatriate community during his visit to Wat Buddharangsee Buddhist temple in Sydney.

The premier told the Thai expats that his government was leading the country out of the political crisis and back to democracy. He said that despite obstacles he and his Cabinet were not disheartened in their attempts to solve the country's problems.

Earlier in the day, Surayud had a luncheon meeting with Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders attending their 15th summit in Australia.

During brief, casual discussion US President George W Bush expressed hope to Surayud that the Thai government would hold a clean and fair election as the country returned to democratic rule.

The prime minister gave assurances to the US president that the general election, tentatively scheduled for December 23, would be held in a fair and clean fashion, according to the TNA.

Surayud quoted Bush as saying that the US president had been kept informed about Thailand's political affairs and that he was aware the prime minister was committed to holding a general election this year.

The Nation - Sat, September 8, 2007

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