July 9, 2008

The Law is an Ass-et. Coups, Law and Corruption Cases

The Asset Examination Committee/Asset Scrutiny Committee

In late June 2008 the Asset Examination Committee/Asset Scurtiny Committee (depending on the translation) wound up its activities. Vilified and loved in the same measure, the AEC was commissioned in the aftermath of the 2006 September coup against the caretaker Thaksin government to investigate losses to the state during the Thaksin administration. Some of its members were well known anti-Thaksin figures and their impartiality was quite reasonably questioned. However, the AEC had no authority to determine guilt, but merely to investigate. Its evidence had to be forwarded to the appropriate authorities and courts.

Recently, the Constitutional Court ruled the Committee was a lawful organization, after lawyers argued its coup-origins made it an illegitimate body. This was always going to be a long shot: Thai law proceeds on the premise, and has done for nearly 60 years, that coups are legal once the resulting government has, de facto, established its right to rule. This then enshrines all coup decrees as legal. Of course, the new constitution also verifies that "fact" - hence the layered, complex mess that is Thai law.

It is worth noting that the cases that are now before the courts, including the Rachadapisek land purchase) are merely the tip of the iceberg. Below, for the purposes of information, I summarise the cases that the AEC have determined should be pursued. Only a few are now in process. The ASC claims that the 21 cases it examined involve a loss to state revenue of 1.8 saen laan baht The information comes from Vote Magazine, July 2008 issue.

The cases acted on by the Asset Examination Committee are classified into four types:
1. Those currently in progress in the courts

1.1 Tax avoidance in transferring Shinawat Computer Inc. Communications involving Khun Ying Pojaman Shinawat –Bannaphot Damaphong Case number : 1149/2550 commenced 26 March 2007
1.2 The sale of land in the Rachadapisek district by the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) to KY. Pojaman Shinawat. Both Thaksin and Pojaman are defendants
1.3 The case regarding the 2/3 number lottery project by the The Government Lottery Office. 32 political office holders and 16 officials.

2 Those cases which have been sent to the office of the auditor general but which were not decided by the Attorney General before the ASC ended its tenure:

2.1 Projects regarding electrical cable laying at Suwannaphum airport involving former Minister of Transport Suriya Jungrungreangkit and a top official in the Ministry of Transport
2.2. Case involving baggage systems and CTX 9000 scanners at S.Airport involving 26 politicians, civil servants, officials of state enterprises, juristic persons, and entrepreneurs. Loss to the state estimated at 6, 937 million baht.
2.3 Case involving “loan irregularities loan irregularities extended to the Krisda Mahanakorn Group” by the Krung Thai group. The case involves Thaksin, his son Panthongtae and 31 (former) board members of Krung Thai Bank.
2.4 Five cases that allege the former prime minister Thaksin used his position to benefit his own businesses, causing loss to state assets.
2.4.1 Case on the order to convert mobile phone operator concessions to an excise tax, leading to a loss of the Telephone organization of Thailand of 30, 667 million baht.
2.4.2 Case regarding reducing revenue share paid to TST ทศท from prepaid mobile services from 25 to 20% leading to a state loss of 70, 872 million baht.
2.4.3 Case relating to AIS and its reduction of payments by treating networks separately for payment purposes to TOT. Loss of 18970579711 baht during the term of the concession. This gain enabled rise in Shin Corp before its sale.
2.4.4 Various breaks given by the Board of Investment for IPSTAR satellite projects within Thailand.
2.4.5 Case regarding Treasury officials in tax negotiations regarding the sale of Shin Corp.

3. Those cases under consideration by the AEC but not forwarded to the OAG before 30th June.

3.1 Case regarding Sky Train Airport link with losses to the state of 1, 200 million baht.
3.2 Three Cases regarding Ua Athon housing project that involves builders, officials (3.2.1/3.2.2/3.2.3 )
3.3 A case involving the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and its dealings with private companies worth 300 million baht.
3.4 The case involving the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority’s purchase of fire trucks involving a loss to the state of 1, 900 million baht.
3.5 The cause of unusual wealth in Thaksin’s purchase of Manchester City

4. Those cases which have been returned after the Attorney General determined not to proceed.

4.1 The Export-Import Bank and the loan to Burma (which involved purchase of Shin Corp products). Claimed loss of state amounting to 670,436,201 baht (EXIM) 140,349,000 (Treasury). Gains to Shin Corp 593,492,815 baht.
4.2 Case involving Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and rubber plantations project. Loss to the state of 1, 400 million baht Case involves 44 people including Newin Chidchop, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Various accused are being asked to pay compensation of 1,109 million baht.

5. Those cases sent to the Tax office to recoup tax.

5.1 Pojaman Shinawat and Banaphot Damaphong transferred shares with no tax. Tax outstanding approximately 546 million baht.
5.2 Thaksin’s children Phongthongtae and Thongtha Shinawat bought shares in Shin Corp from Ample Rich Invesment (164.6 million each) at a cost of 1 baht before they sold it to Temasak at 49.25 baht, which is subject to tax. In August 2550 requested Tax Department to seek payment of 11, 809, 294, 773 baht in tax.
5. 3. Ample Rich tax issue, as it was active in Thailand for four years, but never paid tax.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the sentence:
"The ASC claims that the 21 cases it examined involve a loss to state revenue of 1.8 saen laan baht"
May I suggest some change to a meaningful value "180 billion baht (180,000,000,000)" instead of 1.8 saen laan baht which may not be understood by non-Thai.