The Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to five years in jail for illegally holding shares in the state's phone concessionaires and conflict of interest, and issued a warrant for his arrest.
The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions said it resumed the trial in the case against Thaksin in absentia as allowed by the new Organic Act on Criminal Procedure for Holders of Political Positions in 2017.
Thaksin was arraigned by the attorney-general in 2008 on charges of malfeasance and conflict of interest between Feb 9, 2001 and Sept 19, 2006, during his two terms as prime minister.
Thaksin was charged with violating the Organic Act on Counter Corruption by holding shares in Shin Corp through proxies. The act prohibits a government official from holding shares in a contractor of the state. He was also arraigned for conflict of interest in breach of the Criminal Code.
The court found Thaksin guilty as charged.
It said its ruling that Thaksin ordered executive decrees and his cabinet reached a resolution to cut the excise tax rate for mobile phone operators from 50% to 10% and allow such operators to deduct their concession fees equivalent against tax paid.
That benefited Advance Info Service Plc and Digital Phone Co, which were part of Shin Corp of which Thaksin was the major shareholder. The companies obtained mobile phone concessions from TOT Plc and CAT Telecom Plc respectively.
A panel of judges from the court ruled by a majority vote to sentence Thaksin to two years in jail for holding shares in the mobile phone companies and three years for conflict of interest. The sentences are consecutive.
The court also issued a warrant for his arrest. However, Thaksin fled the country in 2008.