BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s army-backed government said on Monday it would seize 21 bank accounts with assets worth 52.9 billion baht ($1.53 billion) held by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife.
The announcement from the Assets Examination Committee (AEC), established after a September coup against Thaksin, followed months of investigations into alleged corruption during his five years in office.
No charges have been filed in court, but the AEC said it had come to the conclusion “that Thaksin and his cronies had been corrupt and committed wrongdoings,” the panel said in a statement.A former policeman and telecoms tycoon, Thaksin came to power in 2001 at the head of his Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party, promising to improve the lives of rural Thais with schemes such as universal public health care and cheap credit for farmers.
He was very popular in the countryside, but critics and political opponents said he used his vast personal wealth to blind voters to “policy corruption” under which his companies, such as his family’s Shin Corp telecoms empire, benefited unfairly.The $3.8 billion sale of Shin Corp to Singapore state investment company Temasek in early 2006 triggered mass street protests.
“They have illegally obtained wealth through abuses of power to benefit Shin Corp,” the AEC statement said.Thaksin, who was in New York at the time of the coup, has not been allowed to return to Thailand since. He has spent most of his time in London or traveling round Asia playing golf and giving interviews that have upset Bangkok’s military rulers.