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Monday, September 10, 2007

Thaksin Definitely Concealed Assets Aboard

Thaksin may have to face new charges

AEC said to have evidence ex-PM, wife illegally held shares in Shin Corp through nominee Winmark

The Assets Examination Committee will today decide whether to press charges against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of attaining unusual wealth and concealing assets.

The AEC subcommittee investigating allegations of irregularities and vested interest against the ex-PM, led by Klanarong Chantik, planned to suggest to the full meeting today that charges be filed against Thaksin for hiding his wealth, according to a source.

The accusation against Thaksin is that he violated the anti-graft law by failing to report to the National Counter Corruption Commission his shareholding in Shin Corp after becoming prime minister, the source said.

"The subcommittee has found that Thaksin and his wife Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra were still holding shares in Shin Corp after he assumed office," the source said.

The AEC would produce evidence to prove the claim and to show that it was not biased against Thaksin.

The source said its evidence would point out that Thaksin and Pojaman held the shares in question through nominees. "This has something to do with Winmark, a company registered in the British Virgins Islands," said the source, referring to Thaksin's offshore firm.

AEC secretary Kaewsan Atibodhi gave a hint last Friday that there would be big news about Thaksin this week.

According to another source, it was likely that the AEC would decide whether to order more of Thaksin's assets to be frozen, possibly as much as Bt50 billion, as its subcommittee found grounds to believe that the deposed premier was "unusually rich".

Meanwhile, Thaksin's legal adviser Noppadon Pattama yesterday urged the government not to waste taxpayers' money by trying to extradite him or freeze his assets abroad.

Noppadon insisted Thaksin did not have any assets hidden abroad, and in fact his only overseas asset was the Manchester City Football Club.

He had earlier 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.

Noppadon was speaking at a press conference yesterday at which he also defended the Thaksin cabinet over its implementation of the two-and three-digit lottery scheme. He said the lottery was legitimate and revenues from the lottery were used with transparency.

The former premier's legal counsel also expressed confidence that the United Kingdom would not allow Thaksin to be extradited because the legal proceedings against him were against the rule of law.

"Thaksin is being politically harassed. What the public prosecutors are doing is just trying to discredit him on the international scene,'' he said.

In a related development, AEC spokesman Sak Korsaengruang said yesterday the panel would try to find a solution to the translation problem of the CTX scanner contract as the Foreign Ministry had yet to translate more than 1,400 pages of documents, citing a shortage of time and translators.

The AEC needed the contract as part of the evidence to incriminate Thaksin and his Cabinet over the alleged corruption in the scanner purchase.

Sak said AEC chairman Nam Yimyaem had already endorsed a request to Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to order the Foreign Ministry to translate the documents. The AEC could not hire a private company to translate the highly confidential contract as it might be leaked to the public.

He said the AEC had the right to check the overseas assets of Thaksin.

The Nation - Mon, September 10, 2007

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