Case centres on a ฿10 million payment made by cheque from Mr Krisdathanon of the Krisda Mahanakorn Plc to 39-year-old Mr Shinawatara which has been linked to a ฿9.9 billion loan package given by the state’s Krungsri Bank to the ailing property development group in 2003 and 2004. 19 people including executives associated with the firm and the bank have so far been jailed for long terms over the scandal.
A witness for the Anti Money Laundering Office on Tuesday told the court that a ฿10 million cheque written to Panthongtae Shinawatra by the company at the centre of the long-running Krungsri Bank loan scandal was suspicious. His testimony was that his office had formed the view that it was a corrupt payment for a favour. 39-year-old Mr Shiniwatra submitted a new statement to the court on Tuesday and will now give evidence personally in an attempt to convince judges that the transaction was neither improper or illegal.
The son of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will take the stand and give testimony in his own defence on Thursday before the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in Bangkok.
New statement submitted by the defendant
It follows the submission by Panthongtae Shinawatra, also known as ‘Oak’ to the court on Tuesday of a new statement explaining the circumstances that link him to a ฿10 million cheque payment allegedly made by Mr Wichai Krisdathanon of the Krisda Mahanakorn Plc which has been at the centre of controversy now for over a decade following a controversial loan package of ฿9.9 billion granted to the then-struggling property group in 2003 and 2004.
The company had previously been listed by the Krungsri Bank as a defaulting debtor and yet the package of loans was cleared at the highest board level of the bank to a number of subsidiaries for refinancing purposes and to fund new project developments.
Father and ex-premier cleared by the Supreme Court in relation to the affair at the end of August
At the end of August, the Thai Supreme Court cleared Thaksin Shinawatra on charges brought against him saying there was insufficient evidence that he had any role in the matter. The legal case against the former premier had dragged on for twelve years in various guises with the last case originating from 2012.
19 people have been jailed so far and give jail terms of 12 to 18 years for malfeasance
Since the controversy over the dubious loan package emerged in the aftermath of Mr Shinawatra’s ouster from power, no less than 19 people associated with the financial arrangement both within the bank and the company concerned, have been jailed for malfeasance. All were sentenced to long terms in prison ranging from 12 years to 19 years.
‘Oak’ supported by his two sisters in court
On Tuesday, Panthongtae Shinawatra attended court accompanied by his two sisters Paetongtarn and Pinthongta. A witness for the prosecution, Sunthara Phontrai, who works at the Anti Money Laundering Office in the capacity as director of asset management, told the court that he deemed a transfer of ฿10 million from Mr Krisdathanon of Krisda Mahanakorn Plc to 39-year-old Mr Shinwatara as suspicious.
Devastating evidence from Anti Money Laundering Office expert describing the payment as corrupt
The prosecution witness told the court that the Anti Money Laundering Office has formed a view that the payment was a corrupt one which may have been a payoff for some benefit or favour. The witness also revealed that the cheque had been cashed and the funds associated with it disbursed in a peculiar manner which also raised suspicion.
Young Shinawatra: Not guilty, vows to clarify matters
On Tuesday, Mr Panthongtae reaffirmed that he was not guilty in the matter before the courts. He said that he was sure that the judges would understand his explanation of what transpired in relation to the funds. He also revealed that he would be the sole witness for the defence and will give evidence before the court on Thursday to clear up the matter.
Court ruling expected on Thursday
A court ruling is expected on Thursday after all witness testimony has been heard. No details have surfaced as to the content of the statement supplied by ‘Oak’ Shinawatra to the court. Further prosecution witnesses are also expected to testify.
Serious charges of money laundering and conspiracy
Mr Panthongtae is facing serious charges including money laundering and conspiracy to money launder. Thailand has very stiff legislation on money laundering while the conspiracy charge also opens the accused up to wider charges on Thailand’s criminal code.