Thaksin's son charged with money-laundering

Panthongtae Shinawatra has complained of victimisation.
Panthongtae Shinawatra has complained of victimisation.

BANGKOK • The only son of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been formally charged with money-laundering, the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) told Reuters yesterday.

Panthongtae Shinawatra is accused of receiving a 10 million baht (S$410,000) cheque in 2004 related to an earlier corruption case involving 9.9 billion baht of fraudulent loans extended by the state-owned Krungthai Bank when his father was prime minister.

DSI deputy spokesman Woranan Srilum said Panthongtae had turned himself in on Tuesday but was released because no arrest warrant for him had been issued.

Panthongtae could now gather evidence for his case, Mr Woranan said, while the DSI must decide whether to take the case to the criminal court.

The younger Shinawatra was not available for comment. He had complained this month of victimisation and called for the dropping of the money-laundering investigation.

His lawyer declined to comment when contacted.

Supporters of the Shinawatras say the legal action is the latest attempt by the authorities in junta-ruled Thailand to squeeze the family out of politics and blunt its influence.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Thaksin, a former policeman, started building a telecommunications conglomerate that made him one of Thailand's richest and most powerful men.

After entering politics, he won landslide election victories, beginning in 2001, with the support of the rural and urban poor who saw him as the first political leader to care for them.

But he made powerful enemies, especially in the Bangkok-based establishment, which saw him and his populist ways as a threat.

Ousted in a 2006 coup, and later convicted of corruption, which he denies, Thaksin has overseen from self-exile victory for his party in every election since, most recently in 2011, when his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, became prime minister. She was ousted in a 2014 coup.

Last month, the Supreme Court sentenced Yingluck to five years in jail in absentia for mismanaging a rice subsidy scheme.

Recently, old cases against Thaksin have been revived, including an accusation that he abused his power while he was prime minister by ordering the Export-Import Bank of Thailand to give low interest loans to Myanmar in 2006 to further his business interests.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2017, with the headline 'Thaksin's son charged with money-laundering'. Print Edition | Subscribe