of Thaksin’s former wife ‘not politically motivated’
The unexpected return to Thailand of the former wife of ousted premier
Thaksin Shinawatra is not politically motivated, her spokesman said
yesterday amid continuing turmoil in the country
Pojaman, travelling under her maiden name
returned to Bangkok with her son and daughter from Hong Kong on Friday
after fleeing the kingdom in August following her three-year jail
sentence for tax evasion.
Local media yesterday speculated her return was linked to the
formation of a new government, after the ruling People Power Party
(PPP) was disbanded by a court decision on Tuesday that also ousted
premier Somchai Wongsawat—Thaksin’s brother-in-law.
But her spokesman, Phonthep Thepkanjana, said: “Her return has
nothing to do with politics.”
“As far as I know she came back to take care of her mother who will
undergo an operation soon,” he added.
He said Pojaman would await a ruling from the appeals court on her tax
evasion case. Pojaman, her brother and secretary were convicted in
July of tax evasion and released on bail pending appeal.
“The case is in the appeals process... so she will not have to do
anything but wait for the verdict,” Phonthep said.
Last month Pojaman, 52, and Thaksin, 59, divorced after 32 years of
marriage, with family friends claiming they remained close and it was
a “divorce on paper” for practical or economic reasons.
The couple had been living in exile since August to avoid jail
sentences in their homeland but last month had their British visas
cancelled, leaving them searching for a new refuge.
Former PPP members were at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to greet
Pojaman before she was whisked away through a private exit on Friday.
A new party, Pheu Thai, set up to regroup MPs from the PPP, which is
filled with Thaksin’s allies, is due to elect a party leader today.
But the interim government has cancelled a parliamentary session set
for tomorrow to choose a new prime minister, as uncertainty continues
to cloud Thailand’s political future.
The country has been rocked by months of protests aimed at toppling
Somchai and his government by demonstrators who say the administration
is a corrupt puppet of Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in September
This week’s constitutional court ruling provided a face-saving way
for the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to abandon an
eight-day blockade of Suvarnabhumi airport. –
2008 December 8
Thaksin's wife and her brother get 3
The wife of former Thai prime minister
Thaksin Shinawatra and her brother were sentenced to three years in prison
for evading taxes, the first conviction in a string of cases filed against
the ex-premier's family since he was ousted in a 2006 coup.
Pojaman Shinawatra, 50, and her brother
Bhanapot Damapong were met by cheering supporters at Bangkok Criminal Court
before yesterday's verdict was read. The siblings were accused of
collaborating and conspiring to evade tax and providing false testimony and
documentation on the 1997 transfer of 4.5 million shares of a company
formerly controlled by the family. They were granted bail and can appeal the
decision, the court said.
The convictions may lead to more
confrontations between Thaksin's friends and foes after the Supreme Court
accepted two new cases against him this week. Prime Minister Samak
Sundaravej submitted a cabinet reshuffle list for royal endorsement
yesterday in a bid to calm protesters who say he's beholden to Thaksin.
'The decision will increase political
pressure,' said Jade Donavanik, dean of the law school at Siam University.
'One group will want more convictions, while the other will want the legal
processes against Thaksin to stop.'
The benchmark SET Index has fallen 24 per
cent since street protests began on May 25, and the baht has fallen 4.5 per
cent. Demonstrators, who want Thaksin behind bars, are led by Sondhi
Limthongkul, a former business associate of the ex-premier who fell out with
him in 2005.
Bhanapot, former chairman of Shin Corp, a
Thai telco, received 4.5 million shares of the firm valued at 738 million
baht (S$30 million) on Nov 7, 1997, from Pojaman's secretary, who was also
convicted yesterday and sentenced to two years in jail.
Bhanapot said that the transfer shouldn't
be subject to tax because the shares were a wedding gift from Pojaman, an
argument the court said yesterday was 'unconvincing'. The share transfer
couldn't be a wedding gift because Bhanapot registered his marriage in
January 1996, according to findings from the Assets Scrutiny Committee, a
body created after the coup to investigate Thaksin, his family and members
of his cabinet.
The share transfer should be taxed 270
million baht, excluding a penalty fee, it said. All three were released on
bail of five million baht each pending appeal, court officials said.
'We will appeal within 30 days. The
lawyers will look into the details of the law,' Phongthep Thepkanjana,
Pojaman's spokesman told AFP.
Pojaman, wearing sunglasses and a sombre
grey suit, smiled as she left the court flanked by Thaksin and their three
children. The trial attracted a huge security presence, with 200 police and
guards surrounding the court.
The case is one of a dozen corruption
claims. He and his wife are also set to testify in August at another
corruption trial, in which Pojaman is accused of using her husband's
influence to buy a plot of prime Bangkok real estate from a government
agency at one-third its estimated value. -
2008 August 1
Thaksin's wife released on bail
The wife of Thailand's ousted premier
Thaksin Shinawatra was released on bail on Tuesday, after she returned to
the kingdom to defend corruption charges against her, the Supreme Court said
in a statement.
Pojaman Shinawatra was released on bail
of five million baht (US$149,000), and ordered not to leave the country
without the court's permission, said the statement issued after a hearing
that lasted less than an hour.
The court also set Jan 23 as the opening
date for her trial on charges of using her husband's political influence to
buy prime Bangkok real estate from a government agency at one-third its
Ms Pojaman Shinawatra, 51, arrived on a
Thai Airways flight from Hong Kong, an immigration official said, after
spending the last six months with her husband overseas where she avoided
arrest warrants over the corruption claims.
One of Dr Thaksin's top political allies,
Chaowarin Latthasaksiri, met her at the airport and said she was taken to a
VIP immigration room to be presented with the charges and the warrant
Deputy national police chief Watcharaphon
Prasarnratchakit said that police then escorted her to the Supreme Court to
hear the charges before judges.
Dr Thaksin has lived in self-imposed
exile since the military toppled his government in a bloodless coup in
September 2006, but says he plans to return to the kingdom by April once a
new government is installed.
His allies emerged from elections last
month just shy of a majority in parliament, but the military-appointed
Election Commission has opened dozens of vote fraud investigations that
threaten their ability to form a new government.
Dr Thaksin has also been charged in the
case, and both have denied any wrongdoing.
Their youngest daughter Paetongtarn, a
university student in Bangkok, was seen waiting for her mother at the court.
Both Ms Pojaman and Dr Thaksin also face
separate criminal charges accusing them of fraudulent filings to the
Securities and Exchange Commission over the 2003 listing of a property
Ms Pojaman, her step-brother Banpot
Damapong and her personal secretary Kanchanapa Honghern also face additional
criminal charges of tax evasion. --
2008 January 9 AFP
Thaksin's wife arrested upon arrival
Pojaman Shinawatra later released on bail of 5m baht
As the first signs of improved fortunes
for Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra appeared with the
possible formation of a sympathetic government, his wife Pojaman returned to
the country to insist on her innocence.
Ms Pojaman, who is said to have a strong
influence on her husband, was placed under arrest on charges of false stock
disclosure and official misconduct as soon as she landed at Suvarnabhumi
airport. She was later released later on bail of five million baht
She and Dr Thaksin are both charged with
corruption involving the purchase of a plot of prime Bangkok real estate.
Investigators said that Ms Pojaman used her husband's political influence to
buy the land from a government agency at one-third of its estimated value.
The Shinawatras said that the auction of the land involved open bidding.
The two are also accused of making
fraudulent filings to securities regulators in 2003 when they listed a
property firm on the local exchange.
Ms Pojaman, her stepbrother Banpot
Damapong and her personal secretary Kanchanapa Honghern also face additional
criminal charges of tax evasion. Conviction on any of the charges could
result in prison sentences.
Her return comes at a time when the party
which gained the most seats in the Dec 23 elections is struggling to form a
coalition government. The People's Power Party (PPP) - held to be
sympathetic to the former prime minister - has been under strain as 65 of
its 233 winning candidates have not been endorsed by the Election
Meanwhile, Dr Thaksin said that he would
return to Thailand in the near future to join his wife and children.
'I have long said that I will return to
Thailand to prove my innocence and to fight for justice, but I do not want
to trigger any conflicts that would worsen the situation,' he said in a
statement on his website.
'I want to reassure you that when the
appropriate time comes, I will return to Thailand to prove the innocence of
myself and my family.'
Pojaman: Seen here arriving at a Bangkok court yesterday, she was
earlier arrested at the airport on charges of false stock disclosure and
Ms Pojaman was dressed in a black suit,
marking her participation in the official mourning for the death of the
elder sister of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Dr Thaksin issued a two-page letter to
his supporters, giving reasons for his wife's return and emphasising the
couple's loyalty to the King, the world's longest reigning monarch.
'As a Thai, there is no country which can
equally give Thais happiness like Thailand under His Majesty's grace,' he
'A loyal subject such as Khunying Pojaman
wishes to return to Thailand to lead her life with her family peacefully
under His Majesty's grace.'
Analysts said that her return would give
a boost to the PPP as it tries to fight off the vote fraud claims while
wooing partners for a coalition government.
'The purpose of her return is to boost
moral support for PPP as the party is having difficulties,' the news agency
AFP quoted Ukrist Pathmanand, a professor of political science at
Chulalongkorn University, as saying.
'By merely showing up in Bangkok, Pojaman
was directly offering her support for the PPP.'
- 2008 January 9 SINGAPORE
Court yesterday issued arrest warrants for ousted prime minister Thaksin
Shinawatra and his wife after they failed to appear before the court to hear
charges against them. The case involves accusations of malfeasance relating
to the purchase by Mr Thaksin's wife of a plot of land that was under the
management of the Bank of Thailand (BOT).
|Wanted in Thailand: Mr
Thaksin and his wife failed to appear in court to hear charges filed
'The court has reason to believe that
they (Mr Thaksin and his wife) are evading prosecution,' Supreme Court judge
Thonglor Choam-ngam said when announcing the issuance of the arrest
The action was taken after the court
began the first hearing in the 772 million baht (S$37.7 million)
Ratchadaphisek land purchase case without the presence of Mr Thaksin and his
wife, named as defendants in the case.
Mr Thaksin's lawyer attended the hearing
on behalf of his clients and urged the Supreme Court to extend the deadline
by another 30 days, because of security fears for the ex-prime minister.
The judges then issued arrest warrants
for Mr Thaksin and his wife Pojaman, saying their excuse did not justify
their failure to appear in court.
Mr Thaksin is at present living in
Britain, where his wife and children have recently joined him.
The case, which has been the only one in
which the military-appointed government has so far proceeded against Mr
Thaksin or his wife, involves a piece of land which the Financial
Institutions Development Fund, an arm of the Bank of Thailand, auctioned off
to various bidders in an open and transparent manner. The land was sold in
2003 to Ms Pojaman.
The Asset Examination Committee (AEC),
the government-appointed body which is investigating the cases, says Ms
Pojaman should not have taken part in the bidding, as her husband was in
Mr Thaksin was charged by the AEC with
abusing his position as PM to influence the land deal, which his wife was
able to close for a sum apparently below market value.
The court has set a Sept 25 date for a
further hearing of the case.
The issue of the arrest warrant could
also mean that Thailand may soon seek the extradition from Britain of Mr
Thaksin and his wife, Prime Minister's Office Minister Thirapat Serirangsan
There is an extradition treaty between
Thailand and Britain and 'it is possible that the Office of the
Attorney-General may take steps to ask the British government to extradite
Mr Thaksin', Mr Thirapat said.
Mr Thaksin's legal team earlier issued a
statement reaffirming that he and his wife would definitely not return to
Thailand before the outcome of the general election, whose date has not yet
'Mr Thaksin and Ms Pojaman will fight
their charges after the election,' the statement said.
BUSINESS TIMES 15 August 2007
Arrest warrant out for ex Thai PM
Thailand's Supreme Court issued arrest
warrants for exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife on
corruption charges on Tuesday.
The nine-judge panel ordered him to be
produced in court by September 25, the starting date of the trial of Thaksin
and his wife, following his failure to meet Tuesday's deadline for a
Extradition proceedings would be
considered if Thaksin, who has kept a high profile by buying English Premier
League club Manchester City from his exile home in London, did not appear by
the new deadline, prosecutor Seksan Bangsomboon told reporters.
Thaksin, ousted in a bloodless coup last
year, and his wife Pojaman, face charges summarized as "misconduct of a
government official and violation of a ban on state officials being party to
transactions involving public interests".
They stem from Pojaman's 772 million baht
($22.3 million) purchase of land in central Bangkok while he was prime
minister from a unit of the Bank of Thailand in a 2003 auction at which
other bidders dropped out.
The couple has denied the charges and
Thaksin, who has said frequently to general disbelief in Thailand that he
has quit politics, says he will not return to Thailand until democracy is
Thaksin's lawyers argued the land case
should be postponed to next year, or 30 days after a new government took
office following a general election promised for December.
They argued Thaksin could not get a fair
trial with the military in charge, with calling defense witnesses
problematical, and his personal safety could not be guaranteed.
The nine-judge panel ordered him to be produced in court by September 25,
the starting date of the trial of Thaksin and his wife, following his
failure to m
Thaksin's return before the election
could also cause trouble between supporters who swept him to two landslide
election victories and opponents, they said.
"I have talked with my two clients
and we agree that the best timing for them to return to fight the case is
after the election," Thaksin's lawyer, Pichit Chuenban, said after the
"We reiterate that the current
situation is still not good for their safety and we have no desire to see
disunity in the country." If convicted, Thaksin, a telecommunications
billionaire banned from politics for five years after his party was found
guilty of electoral fraud, could face 10 years in jail and a 60,000 baht
The charges stem from a ruling by the
Asset Examination Committee set up after the coup that Thaksin and Potjaman
broke anti-graft laws preventing politicians in office doing business deals
with state agencies.
The committee wants the court to annul
the deal, return the land to the central bank and confiscate the money
The military-appointment government of
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont puts a new draft constitution to a
referendum on August 19 and promises to hold a general election by the end
of the year - REUTERS
14 August 2007
billionaire no more
Ousted prime minister
and former telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra is no longer counts among
Thailand's billionaires since the military froze his assets, Forbes said
Thaksin, once Thailand's fourth richest
business man with a fortune of US$2.2 billion (HK$17.16 billion), is now
thought to be worth around US$300 million.
He "fell from the billionaire perch
after facing frozen assets, multimillion- dollar fines and other court
decisions against his family," says Forbes.
The military, which overthrew Thaksin
last September, froze at least US$1.52 billion of family assets.
Since the coup, Thaksin has remained in
exile and now lives in London with wife Pojaman.
On Tuesday, Thailand's Supreme Court
agreed to hear corruption charges against the couple. - AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE 14 July 2007
Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime
minister of Thailand, was the purchaser of the luxury townhouse on The Peak
recently sold by Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) - a property whose price tag
of HK$41,000 per square foot set a record in Asia's luxury property market,
sources told The Standard.
A source close to the deal said it was
billionaire Thaksin who paid an astounding HK$210 million for the 5,100 sq
ft townhouse, referred to as House 1 at Severn 8, The Peak.
Two other sources also named Thaksin as
the buyer, whose identity was previously unknown.
"It is obvious the seller is pushing
the price to the limit," said a source who has been in the property
industry for more than 30 years.
"It would require someone who either
loves the property very much or who does not care about money at all to make
the call of buying it for more than HK$41,000 per square foot."
The Severn 8 development is considered
one of the biggest projects in Hong Kong in terms of size and luxury.
Thaksin's townhouse - complete with
swimming pool - does not stand on its own but is connected to other units
and, therefore, was considered unlikely to fetch such a premium price.
Local media had previously reported only
that the property was sold to an unnamed "businessman."
"The price shows how good the
quality of House 1 is in terms of its geographic location and how quiet the
living environment is," Midland Realty sales director Gary Yeung
Wing-kin said after the deal.
Before the sale, local media had
speculated that the house was reserved for Martin Lee Ka-shing, co-vice
chairman of Henderson Land (0012) and younger son of company chairman Lee
Shau-kee, to move into after his recent HK$100 million wedding to model and
actress Cathy Chui Chi-kay.
The price Thaksin paid for the property
was a record for the luxury market - not just in Hong Kong, but for the
whole of Asia.
The businessman-turned-politician has
been spotted in Hong Kong shopping with his wife several times recently.
Thaksin has been in exile since a
military coup took control of Thailand last September while he was out of
the country on a diplomatic visit.
Since the coup, he has been living mostly
SHKP bought the land for its 22-house
project on Severn Road for HK$8,353 per square foot of developable gross
floor area at a government land auction in February 2000.
Thaksin's purchase price is the latest in
a string of records for the 8 Severn Road development.
Houses 6 and 7 sold for HK$36,500 psf, or
a total of HK$320 million, in November 2006 - then a record for the luxury
market in Hong Kong.
That mark was surpassed by House 5 in the
same development, which sold in March 2007 for HK$38,800 psf, or HK$200
million. - HONG
KONG STANDARD 13 June 2007