By Roger Blitz in London and Amy Kazmin in Bangkok
Published: June 21 2007 09:20 | Last updated: June 21 2007 12:50
Thaksin Shinawatra, the deposed Thai prime minister, on Thursday said he would sue the Thai military government for the return of the Bt57bn ($1.8bn) of his assets frozen by anti-graft investigators, adding he would not receive justice if he returned to Bangkok to face corruption charges.
Mr Thaksin, who on Thursday formally made an £81.6m ($163m) bid for Manchester City, the UK football club, said in a Financial Times interview in London that he remained retired from Thai politics and there was no reason for Thai authorities to fear him.
He planned to go back to Bangkok as a private citizen, he said, “definitely, but not now”. The Manchester City deal was unveiled just hours after Thai prosecutors formally charged Mr Thaksin and his wife, Pojamarn, with improprieties in her 2003 acquisition of a piece of prime Bangkok property from a fund supervised by the Thai central bank. Seksan Bangsomboon, the state prosecutor, said Mr Thaksin was charged with “abuse of power in that he acted for personal gain, and violated anti-corruption laws”.
But Mr Thaksin, who has been in exile since the bloodless coup in September, said “the rules of the game” had been set by the military junta. “You know immediately you don’t get the justice. When you don’t have justice you have to take some time before you ensure you have justice.”While not worried about his personal safety, Mr Thaksin said he was concerned about the potential for clashes between the military and the public were he to return.
Thailand’s military-installed government has been aggressively stepping up its efforts to destroy Mr Thaksin’s political and financial support base in recent weeks, as it moves closer to a self-imposed end-of-the-year deadline for holding fresh elections and transferring power to an elected government.Mr Thaksin claimed the corruption charges levelled against him were politically motivated.
He said: “It’s my family money. They have no right to take it. We will sue them.” The assets seized were mainly in the names of his wife and children, and his wife, who remains in Thailand, would take up the legal case on the family’s behalf, he said.Mr Thaksin, who founded Thailand’s largest telecommunications empire before entering politics, said he declared more than $2bn of assets when he entered politics in 1994.
He said most of the assets he held outside Thailand were from dividends and share sales. Asked how much that was, he said: “Not much. Because I love Thailand so much, instead of selling shares outside Thailand I sell in Thailand.”The seizure of assets had caused him difficulty over the Manchester City deal, he added, “but I can handle it, because I have friends and credit with friends worldwide”.
The assets to buy the club were private, he stressed. The UK had a process for ensuring company takeover funds were clean.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007