Friday, August 22, 2008

New bid for Thaksin cash

New bid for Thaksin cash

Bank told to hand over B12bn from his account


The Revenue Department is seeking a transfer of 12 billion baht from the frozen accounts of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in an alleged move to have the money returned to his two adult children later.

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) confirmed it had received a letter from the department demanding it transfer the money to the department yesterday.

The letter was sent to the bank as the Office of the Attorney General is due to ask the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Monday to order the seizure of the 76 billion baht assets of Mr Thaksin's family. The assets were frozen following the Sept 19, 2006 coup that toppled his government.

Ongorn Abhakorn na Ayuthaya, SCB's executive vice-president for corporate communication, said the bank was instructed by the department to transfer money kept in two Shinawatra family accounts at the bank.

Of the 76 billion baht of Shinawatra assets ordered frozen by the Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC), about 39.63 billion baht was deposited with the SCB.

The bank's executive board met to discuss legal implications immediately after receiving the letter.

The bank, however, did not transfer the money to the department as requested since the meeting was held past office hours.

A high-ranking official at the Revenue Department has ordered Mr Thaksin's son and daughter, Panthongtae and Pinthongta Shinawatra, to pay income tax of 12 billion baht from their earnings from Shin Corp share transactions between themselves and Ample Rich Investment Co.

The Shinawatra siblings have been accused of evading tax payments for their estimated earnings of 15 billion baht from the transactions.

The estimated earning was calculated from the fact that the Shinawatra family's British Virgin Islands-based Ample Rich Investment Co sold 329.2 million of Shin Corp shares to the siblings at one baht per share on Jan 20, 2006, when the market price was then 47.25 baht per share.

The official said that because the siblings have not paid the 12 billion baht tax money, the Revenue Department has ordered the siblings' assets to be frozen. However, the order could not be enforced as the siblings' assets have already been frozen by the ASC.

Once the SCB handed the 12 billion baht to the Revenue Department, the department's appeal panel could rule on an appeal from the Shinawatra siblings that the siblings were not required to pay the 12 billion baht tax.

Depending on what the panel decides, the department could be then required to return the 12 billion baht in frozen money to the Shinawatra siblings.

Jitmanee Suwannapool, director of Regional Revenue Office 1, denied the department planned to return the 12 billion baht to the Shinawatra siblings.

She said her department is considering whether the department could enforce Article 12 of the Revenue Act, which allows the department to seize or freeze and sell assets of tax-evaders.

Mrs Jitmanee said the ASC has higher authority than the Revenue Department in terms of asset freezes. For this reason, the Revenue Department decided not to seize the 12 billion baht in unpaid tax from the Shinawatra family at present, but would wait until the Supreme Court rules on the ASC's request to seize the family's assets.

Mrs Jitmanee said the department could get into trouble if it enforced Article 12 right now. If after seizing the 12 billion baht, Mr Panthongtae and Ms Pinthongta paid the unpaid tax, the department would have to immediately release the frozen assets.

Then, if the Supreme Court ruled that the family's 76 billion baht assets must be seized, the department could be held responsible for its decision to unfreeze the 12 billion baht which is part of the 76 billion baht in frozen assets.

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