Judges found that the monies given to Mr Panthongtae Shiniwatra were advanced as part of a new business venture that never got off the ground. They found that Mr Panthongtae did not know the provenance of the money which he had later returned. They also observed that the amount was a minor amount to the man who was 26 years old at the time with a personal fortune of ฿4 billion.
The Central Criminal Court in Bangkok on Monday acquitted Panthongtae Shinawatra, the 41-year-old son of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, of money laundering charges in connection with Krung Thani Bank loan scandal from 2003 and 2004.
Thailand’s Central Criminal Court on Monday found the son of ex Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra not guilty on money laundering charges in connection which a ฿ 10 million cheque paid to him by an associate who was embroiled in the Krung Thai Bank loan scandal.
This controversy dating back to the tenure of Thaksin as prime minister saw ฿9.9 billion in illegal loans approved and distributed by the bank to subsidiaries of a heavily indebted real estate company by the leading state-owned bank.
Younger Shinawatra always convinced of his innocence – said he was confident in September
The move is a personal victory for the 41-year-old Panthongtae Shinawatra or ‘Oak’ who was forced to change his testimony to the court at short notice in September because of new evidence in the course of the trial’s hearing in Bangkok.
Mr Panthongtae had repeatedly underlined his determination to be in court today to hear the verdict, showed faith in the legal process and his case.
At the end of the trial in September, Mr Panthongtae said he was confident that the judges in the case would see the veracity of his written explanation.
Court formed the view that Mr Thaksin was unaware of the source of the funds which he had returned
In its judgment today, the court formed the view that Mr Panthongtae was unaware of the nature of the funds which were paid to him by a friend, 53-year-old Ratchada Krisdathanon in connection with a planned luxury car company.
The younger Mr Shinawatra and his associates abandoned the proposal after receiving professional guidance. Mr Thaksin then returned the monies to his friend.
Minor amount in the context of his fortune
Significantly, the court also today noted that the ฿10 million was a minor amount when compared Mr Panthongtae’s fortune at the time estimated to be ฿4 billion.
Released during the trial on ฿1 million bail
Charges were brought against the former premier’s son last October. During the course of the trial, Mr Panthongtae had been freed on the basis of ฿1 million bail granted by the court.
Expert witness for the prosecution described the payments as ‘suspicious’ during the trial
Prosecutors had suggested that the ฿10 million payment to Panthongtae had been proceeds of the illegal loan package which has to date seen 19 people sentenced to long jail terms.
An expert witness for the prosecution at the trial this year had highlighted the payment as ‘suspicious’ when the court heard evidence in the case in September.
Simply a close relation with the family of real estate magnate at the centre of the loan scandal
However, today the court found that the only thing that had been established was that Mr Panthongtae had a close relationship with the family of Wichai Krisdathanon, the principal of the real estate firm Krisdamahanakorn at the centre of the loan package in 2003 and 2004.
Mr Wichai was sent to jail in 2015 for twelve years after being convicted on criminal charges for his role in the scandal.
The former real estate firm boss was the father of Panthongtae’s friend Ratchada Krisdathanon.
Court referred to the acquittal of the ex-premier in August on charges connected with the controversy
In the course of the judgment, the judge also referred to the acquittal of Panthongtae’s father Thakins Shinawatra in August by Thailand’s Supreme Court of any involvement in the loan scandal which rocked the state-run bank at the time.
Gave thanks for moral support during the ordeal
After today’s hearing, ‘Oak’ thanked all those who had given him moral support throughout the legal proceedings against him.
He was accompanied by his mother Khunying Potjaman Na Pombejra who told the press that she as relieved at today’s outcome.
19 people jailed for terms of 12 to 18 years
The Krung Thai Bank loan scandal saw the bank’s former president Viroj Nualkhair and its chairman Suchai Jaovisidha as well as many other bank executives charged and found guilty by the Thai courts.
19 people received jail terms of between 12 and 18 years.
฿9.9 billion loan package to subsidiaries of non-performing debtor company approved by bank
The scandal erupted after it was found that ฿9.9 billion in loans were approved for subsidiaries of the Krisda Mahanakorn (KMC) Public Company property development concern even though the parent company was listed at the time as a non-performing debtor with the KTB bank.
Bangkok Bank took a haircut – received ฿4.5 billion
Subsequently, ฿4.5 billion was paid to Bangkok Bank as that bank agreed to write down the property firms debt in a haircut provided the funds were paid in a timely manner.
The balance of the loan, approved by the state-owned Krung Thai Bank, was distributed in hundreds of other transactions in a complex web which forensic accountants pursued in prosecuting those involved.