NACC resurrects 2 cases against Thaksin
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will resume two pending criminal cases against ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra under a new organic law that allows for the trials of fugitive politicians to be held in absentia.
NACC chairman Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit said the cases involve alleged corruption in Exim Bank's 4 billion baht loan to Myanmar, and the two- and three-digit lottery scheme carried out under the Thaksin administration.
The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions suspended these cases against Thaksin under the old law after he fled the country, but the procedures against the other defendants went ahead.
In the Exim Bank soft loan case, Thaksin is accused of abusing his authority as prime minister to benefit his telecommunications empire.
The findings in the investigation show the loan was approved on the Thaksin government's instruction, and Myanmar spent the money to buy telecoms equipment and satellite services from Shin Satellite, now better known as Thaicom.
The money was lent to the Myanmar government for 12 years at 3% interest, which was below its operating cost. Lending at 3% over 12 years would cost the bank 670 million baht in damages.
As for the the two- and three-digit lottery scheme, Thaksin is accused of violating the Government Lottery Office Act and the law on state reserves when his government resolved to launch the lottery scheme in 2003.
The government claimed the scheme was designed to eliminate underground bookmaking operations and serve as a charity lottery scheme, which was allowed by the GLO Act and entitled to a tax exemption.
It generated 123 billion baht from 2003 to 2006. The Thaksin government said it would channel part of the revenue to education, health and other social projects.
But the Supreme Court found the lottery was not a charity scheme as it did not set revenue targets, limit the number of times it would be issued, or specify the ticket sales-to-prizes ratio.
According to the Supreme Court, the GLO was thus at risk of losing revenue, which could threaten the country's treasury and finance systems.
Former deputy finance minister Varathep Rattanakorn and two top officials at the GLO were found guilty in connection with the scheme and given suspended jail terms.
The others are ex-GLO director Chaiwat Pasokpakdi and ex-permanent secretary for finance Somchainuek Engtrakul.