Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Thaksin's children face probe over controversial sale

AFP , BANGKOK

Thailand's finance minister said on Tuesday that the government had found "solid grounds" to tax the children of the deposed Thai prime minister over a controversial sale of shares in telecoms giant Shin Corp.

Pridiyathorn Devakula told reporters on Tuesday night that the government had been waiting for the Sept. 30 voluntary tax payment deadline to pass before the finance ministry took any action against the son and daughter of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

`Legal process'

"Since yesterday we have started the legal process of claiming the tax from the two persons," Pridiyathorn said.

"From now on you will see exciting news on the front page," he said.

"I cannot tell you more about the details of the process because it is still embargoed by the revenue department," he said.

"But we have started the process of doing the right things, correcting the wrongdoing in the past, and we have found solid grounds to tax the two persons," he said.

The revenue department had earlier announced that they would order Panthongtae Shinawatra and Pinthongta Shinawatra, Thaksin's son and elder daughter, to pay taxes on the billion dollar sale of Shin Corp stock.

`Subject to taxes'

"Authorities have clearly found that the children are subject to paying taxes from the [Shin Corp stock] sale by March next year," revenue department director-general Sirote Swasdipanich said.

He declined to say how much money they would have to pay, but the Bangkok Post said the pair could pay 5.8 billion baht (US$158 million).

Thaksin's family sold its 49 percent stake in Shin Corp to Singapore's state-run Temasek Holdings for US$1.9 billion in a tax-free deal that was struck in January.

Protests

The sale triggered months of street protests demanding Thaksin's resignation over alleged abuse of power and corruption, which eventually led to the bloodless coup on Sept. 19 that ousted Thaksin.

After the 49-percent buyout of Shin Corp, a Temasek-led group of investors increased its total stake to 96 percent through a mandatory offer for the outstanding shares, sparking allegations of a possible violation of foreign ownership rules.

The post-coup Thai government has vowed to investigate the deal.

A Thai court is due to hear a case against Shin Corp for alleged violations of foreign ownership regulations.

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