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NEWS UPDATES 4 March 2010

Thai minister says all of Thaksin's wealth should have been seized

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Thailand's finance minister has said the country's Supreme Court should have seized all of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra's fortune instead of only part of his wealth, reported AFP.

In comments on his Facebook page, Korn Chatikavanij took aim at Friday's decision confiscating $1.4 billion of a total of $2.3 billion in assets which were frozen after Thaksin was toppled in a 2006 coup.

"I increasingly feel that the court was really fair. But if it were me, I would have seized the entire 76 billion baht," wrote Korn, who helped investigate Thaksin's graft before taking up his current post.

The court's decision was widely perceived as a political compromise to mollify Thaksin's supporters, as it allowed him to hold on to the value of his company shares as it stood before he became prime minister in 2001.

"I simply think that if the court only seized the surplus wealth, that means although Thaksin is corrupt he still holds on to his initial money," Korn said in the post on Wednesday.

He said the damage done to state agencies through Thaksin's allegedly corrupt activities merited further legal action against him.

"Those agencies must legally pursue Thaksin," said Korn, a British-born, Oxford-educated former investment banker.

Thailand's anti-corruption body on Thursday said it would fast-track outstanding graft cases against Thaksin. The Supreme Court said in its ruling it was confiscating his money because he abused his power for personal gain.

Thailand's judiciary on Wednesday defended the verdict, saying that it had not been biased or subject to political influence.

Thaksin, who lives in exile to avoid a prior jail sentence for corruption, has vowed to fight the verdict and accused the judges of issuing a "very political" ruling which was a "joke for the world".

His supporters in the so-called "Red Shirt" movement have announced a series of protests around the country later this month in a bid to topple the current government.


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