Special Report:The case of Thaksin Shinawatra: A study in policy corruption

The 7-hour ruling of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Section for Political Position Holders on 26 February 2010 on the seizure of assets belonging to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his associates meant different things to different people The 65-page document made legal history for Thailand and set the standards for the inspection of the exercise of state power as enshrined in the Constitution 2007. The allegations and the judgments also made a case study for policy corruption, a new and complex form of graft.

In the petition submitted by the Attorney-General to the Supreme Court on 25 August 2008, seeking a court order for the seizure of 76,621,603,061.05 THB inclusive of interests as state assets, the reasons stated that the amount was unusual wealth obtained through conflicts of interest by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to benefit Shin Corp and companies in its group in 5 major cases, namely:

1. The conversion of concession payment into excise tax, with the issuance of an executive decree in 2003 to amend the Excise Tax Code 1984, defining excise tax to be appropriated from telecommunication businesses at 20 – 50% , while allowing existing telecom companies to deduct their concession fees from the excise tax they need to pay. The move effectively barred new operators from entering Thai telecom market. The court decided by a majority vote that the former prime minister committed the malfeasance as alleged, causing the loss of over 60 billion THB to the state.

2. The 6th amendment to the Cellular Mobile Telephone Service Agreement in 2002, reducing AIS’ income sharing rate with TOT Public Company Limited for the prepaid cards to be at 20% throughout the concession period, instead of paying the progressive rate at 25% from 1 October 2000 to 30 September 2005, and 30% from 1 October 2005 onwards. The court decided by a majority vote that the move benefited AIS. 3. The 7th amendment to the Cellular Mobile Telephone Service Agreement in September 2002, so that TOT Public Company Limited would have to shoulder the roaming cost for AIS, while enabling AIS to jointly share networks with other concessionaires, resulting in an exemption of an 18 billion THB to be paid to CAT Telecom Public Company Limited and TOT Public Company. Such a move enhanced the status of Ship Corp and the value of its stocks until they were sold to Temasek of Singapore. The court decided by a majority vote that the former prime minister was involved. However, the benefit was derived by Temasek, following the sale of Shin Corp to Temasek on 23 January 2006.

4. The approval of IP Star Satellite Project and the 5th amendment to the concession contract on 27 October 2004, reducing the shares held by Shin Corp in Shinawatra Satellite Company, the builder and launcher of Thaicom satellites, as well as the approval for the use of compensation paid in the case of Thaicom 3 at 6.7 million USD to rent communication channels from foreign satellite, all benefiting Shin Corp and Shin Sat Company. The court ruled by a majority vote that the move benefited Shin Corp and Shin Sat as alleged.

5. The granting of a loan of 4,000 million THB by the Export-Import Bank of Thailand to the government of Myanmar, especially the adding of 1,000 million to the original amount of 3,000 million for the development of that country’s telecommunication system, following an official visit in which Shin Sat executives and the former Prime Minister’s son were included. The loan was provided at a cut-cost rate, with the grace period extended from 2 to 5 years. The contract to develop Myanmar’s telecommunication system was awarded to Shin Sat. The court ruled by a majority vote that the move benefited Shin Sat, at the loss of EXIM Bank and the state.

Following the delivery of the verdict, moves will be made to pursue the salient points in the case, which could result in more criminal and penal lawsuits filed against the former prime minister and persons involved. More importantly, the entire affair makes a study on policy corruption that benefits not only the Thais, but also people the world over.

News ID: 255302270019

Reporter : Amporn Samosorn
News Date : 27 Febuary 2010

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