Court finds Thaksin wife guilty of tax evasion
In a politically-loaded ruling, Criminal Court on Thursday found Pojaman Shinawatra - wife of coup-ousted premier Thaksin - guilty of tax evasion in a 1997 share transaction, court official said.
The heavily-guarded court, surrounded by some 2,000 Thaksin-supporters holding red roses, sentenced Pojaman to three years in jail for avoiding a tax bite amounting to 546 million baht (16.3 million dollars) on a share transfer to her step-brother Bannapot Damapong and her secretary Karnchanapa Honghern in 1997.
Bannapot was also sentenced to three years in jail and Karnchanapa to two years.
Thaksin and the couple's three children sat stony-faced throughout the ruling at the Bangkok court which was guarded by some 500 police. Pojaman had pleaded not guilty to the charge of tax evasion, claiming that the 738 million baht (22 million dollars) share transfer of Shinawatra Computer and Communications stock was a gift, not a business transaction.
The court said it had decided on a heavy sentence because both Pojaman and Bannapot were well-known public figures with responsibility to society.
Well, the Shinawatras are probably thinking that exile wasn't looking so bad. They might still skip town. The court gave them permission to leave for August. Will they lam it?
If it were me, I'd chose exile in cold dreary England over a Thai jail. But the thing is that this time they will really be fugitives from justice and won't be able to enter the UK. The PPP still controls the government, so I guess it doesn't have to pursue extradition and let Thaksin live for eternity on his diplomatic passport-- or until the next coup.
If not exile, jail. It is hard to believe that they will rot in away in jail, but I don't think the court will overrule the verdict(s). One of the charges will stick.