Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thai court accepts another case against Thaksin

BANGKOK, Thailand: The Thai Supreme Court accepted Wednesday a lawsuit alleging abuse of power by Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister, in connection with a government loan to Myanmar.

It was the fourth case to go to court involving allegations of corruption and abuse of power against Thaksin, who was deposed in a September 2006 military coup.

The first hearing is set for Sept. 16, a court statement said.

The complaint, brought by the Assets Examination Committee, said a 2004 low-interest loan to Myanmar by the state-controlled Export-Import Bank of Thailand was meant to benefit the Shin Satellite company, then owned by Thaksin's family.

Thaksin faces charges of conflict of interest and abuse of power for approving a loan to the company on terms more favorable to the borrower than available commercially, the statement said.

The complaint filed by the anti-graft body alleges that Thaksin used his influence to extend the US$127 million loan in exchange for satellite services and orders of satellite equipment from the company.

The acceptance of the new lawsuit came as prior cases against Thaksin and his allies appeared to be gaining momentum, with a ruling on one expected on Thursday. The Criminal Court is to rule on charges of tax evasion against his wife.

Three other pending cases include conflict of interest and malfeasance charges related to his wife's purchase of a piece of prime Bangkok real estate in 2003. She bought the land from a state agency despite an anti-corruption law barring politicians and their spouses from doing business with government offices.

In another, Thaksin was accused of changing laws to favor his telecom business interests.

On Monday, the court also accepted a lawsuit alleging abuse of power against a group of officials, including Thaksin. The targets of the lawsuit are accused of malfeasance in a 2003 lottery scheme initiated by Thaksin's government.

Thaksin was deposed after months of street demonstrations in Bangkok demanding he step down because of the allegations. He returned to Thailand earlier this year after his political allies in the People's Power Party set up a six-party coalition government.

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