Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thai Attorney General: Going After the Shinawatras, Untouchables' Style

Khunying Pojaman and her brother could face 14 years in jail

The Nation

Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of ousted premier Thaksin, and her brother Bhanapot Damapong may face the jail term of 14 years each for tax evasion, a prosecution spokesman said Wednesday following the decision to commence trial.

"The prosecution will seek maximum punishment for Pojaman and Bhanapot for alleged criminal and tax violations," Attapol Yaisawang said.

The prosecution team, led by chief prosecutor Somsak Boonthong, agreed with indictments as per the recommendations from the Asset Examination Committee (AEC) before issuing the prosecution order, Attapol said.

The next step in the litigation proceedings is for the AEC to summon the defendants to report to prosecutors within 10 days in order to spell out the charges, he said.

The government can't prosecute Thaksin for crimes he committed while in power, so go after his family for tax returns filed from ten years ago.

Why wasn't this stuff looked at and prosecuted for back before the 2001 election?

What about the crimes committed during the last six years the Shinawatras were in power?


anon said...

And why aren't Chuan Leekpai, Tarrin Nimanhaemin, and the Chuan-era head of the Revenue Department being charged for malfeasance? After all, these alleged crimes occured on their watch.

hobby said...

patiwat: You may be being a bit harsh because these crimes take time to see the light of day and have to be dealt with legally which takes time.

I agree it would have been better to have the allegations dealt with before now, but obviously any investigations would have been sidetracked by Thaksin during his term in power. Therefore, I cannot see anything wrong in pursuing them now.

We also have to remember that Thaksin wielded significant influence even before he was elected.

I cannot recall the history of the allegations - are you saying they were raised on Chuan's watch and he deliberately stopped any investigation or prosecution?

fall said...

In my opinion, they dont do it because it would effect too much people(businessmen and bureaucrat) and they cannot get the cooperation. Policy cases would mean a direct effect on implicating many current bureaucrats. Either they are an accomplice or need to testify against their superior. And the CNS had made a serious strategic error in denouncing Revenue Department head on Shin-Temasek tax deal. They just cut-off the head(sack) of the first person who testify, now imagine what the rest of the herd would do.

And as I said before somewhere on BP's blog, for all the fanfare and corruption allegations. All cases that actually would be implicate against Thaksin would most likely be personal. To procecuting him on his policy corruption mean to procecute the bureaucrat along. And to threaten these bureaucrat, who know where all the skeletons are buried, might make them cooperate with someone on some old allegations.

Fonzi said...

It is disturbing to me that the present government chases after Thaksin's tax returns from over ten years ago, especially when he was supposedly vetted before he came into power in 2001. Why didn't these things come up when Thaksin was found guilty of concealing assets?

With all due respect to Hobby, Thaksin was not part of the government or the bureaucracy back during Chuan 2-98-2001. And why be prosecuted for other crimes, like asset concealment, but not others during that time if had so much influence?

Also, the reasons for the coup had nothing to do with his taxes back in 1997.

In the end, I agree with Fall with why Thaksin won't be prosecuted for crimes during his tenure.

But going after Thaksin for tax evasion, unrelated to Temasek-Shin, tells me that this government is politically persecuting Thaksin on trumped up charges unrelated to his term in power.

That is dangerous. It is unjust. And it should be denounced.

hobby said...

Fonzi: There are 2 issues at play:

1. Was a crime committed?

2. If there was, then why was it not dealt with earlier?

If the answer to question #1 is NO, then there is no need to pursue question #2.

You and Fall are probably right that they will get away with the tax evasion because too many bureaucrats are also implicated.

You seem to think the charges are trumped up - I must admit I can get confused because there are so many tax cases involving the family, maids, personal secretaries, tax haven companies - it's all a bit hard to keep up with.
I remember reading they were proceeding with this case first because they thought it was the most clear cut - can you point me to a summary of the case and the reasons why you think it is a trumped up charge?

Fonzi said...


The news just came out yesterday, so I know as much about this particular tax evasion case as much as you do.

In my mind, there is a distinction between tax evasion committed in 1997 when Thaksin was out of power and tax evasion as a result of political interference in the last 6 years, such as setting up Ample Rich as a way of dodging taxes on the Temasek deal.

I have no problem with enforcing the law, but what disturbs me is that this government is pursuing tax charges from ten years ago instead of crimes that it alleged Thaksin committed in the last 6 years.

The coup makers didn't overthrow the government because of what happened ten years ago.

It troubles me that this government is going after anything it can to justify the coup. And tax evasion charges against Thaksin's wife and brother in law certainly isn't a justification for me, since it happened long before the Shins came to power.

If you want to make the argument that a tax evasion case is a tax evasion case no matter the politics, and the law needs to be enforced, then I won't disagree with you.

But from where I sit, I can't separate the the politics from this particular case.

Sure, there is part me that says that the Shins deserve what they are getting because of what they did to others, and there is a certain karmic justice to getting hit for evading taxes, but if Thailand is ever going to be politically mature, I have to distinguish my personal feelings of revenge from what is morally and politically right.