Panthongtae pleads not guilty in KTB laundering case

Panthongtae pleads not guilty in KTB laundering case

Panthongtae Shinawatra speaks to reporters at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in Dusit district in Bangkok on Monday, after he entered pleas of not guilty to money-laundering charges. Wearing dark sunglasses, from left, his sister Praethongtan, his mother Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, and his sister Pinthongta accompany him. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Panthongtae Shinawatra speaks to reporters at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in Dusit district in Bangkok on Monday, after he entered pleas of not guilty to money-laundering charges. Wearing dark sunglasses, from left, his sister Praethongtan, his mother Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, and his sister Pinthongta accompany him. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Panthongtae Shinawatra, son of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on Monday entered pleas of not guilty to money-laundering charges linked to the multi-billion-baht Krungthai Bank loan scandal.

He entered his plea at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in Dusit district. His mother, Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, two sisters Pinthongta and Praethongtan, and key figures of the Pheu Thai Party accompanied him in a show of moral support.

On Oct 10, public prosecutors arraigned him on charges of collusion and conspiracy in money-laundering over receiving a 10-million-baht cheque.

Prosecutors allege the money was part of a 9.9-billion-baht loan that state-run Krungthai Bank suspiciously offered to subsidiaries of Krisda Mahanakorn Plc when his father Thaksin was the prime minister. He was released on bail of 1 million baht last month.

Mr Panthongtae, 38, told the court on Monday that the money came from an investment made with some friends. He was given until Dec 14 to outline his defence.

The court set hearings for examination of evidence and witness lists from Jan 22 to April 29 next year. On Jan 22 the court will decide if the case should be merged with another, in which the management of Krisada Mahanakorn is charged with transferring the sum to Mr Panthongtae.

Outside the court, Mr Panthongtae told reporters that he had pleaded not guilty. He did not elaborate on the case.

Mr Panthongtae was accused of laundering money that state-owned Krungthai Bank lent to subsidiaries of property developer Krisda Mahanakorn in 2003 and 2004, when his father Thaksin was prime minister, even though the company was already a non-performing debtor.

He allegedly received a cheque for 10 million baht tied to the unsecured Krungthai Bank loans. Money-laundering carries a jail term of 1-10 years and has a 10-year statute of limitations.

Krungthai Bank lent 9.9 billion baht to subsidiaries of Krisda Mahanakorn to refinance loans and for project development.

Krisda Mahanakorn was at the time in Krungthai's non-performing loans group, a category that banks should not lend to under Bangkok of Thailand regulations.

Bank executives were found to have approved the loan because a "big boss" said there would be no problem.

In 2015, the Supreme Court for holders of political positions sentenced 16 people to 12 and 18 years in jail for malfeasance. They included three former top Krungthai Bank executives and Krisda Mahanakorn executives.

Thaksin was the first defendant in the case, but he left the country in 2008.


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