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17 July 2009

Thailand opens case against former PM’s $2.2b assets

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Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Thursday challenged a move to seize 76 billion baht ($2.2 billion) of his family's assets, which the government claims were gained through abuse of power, reported Reuters.

The former telecoms tycoon, whose assets have been frozen since he was ousted as premier in a 2006 military coup, says the government's case is politically motivated and groundless.

The frozen assets come from the $1.9 billion tax-free sale of telecommunications conglomerate Shin Corporation in 2006 to Singapore state company Temasek, which sparked protests that led to his overthrow in the bloodless putsch.

Thaksin's lawyers say he will argue that he and his wife, from whom he is now divorced, sold all the shares they owned in the company to their children in 2000.

They subsequently sold through the market, and such a deal was tax-free in Thailand. The court heard testimony from two witnesses, the first of 90 Thaksin has listed for his case. The trial is expected to be completed by November 19.


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