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    ASC freezes Thaksin's assets

    ASC freezes Thaksin's assets
    B52bn held in family's and relatives' accounts

    POST REPORTERS

    The Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) yesterday ordered the freezing of more than 52 billion baht held in bank accounts belonging to deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his wife, two grown-up children and two other relatives. The order, effective today, was based on alleged acts of dishonesty and abuse of power to accumulate unusual wealth.


    Any bank which allows transactions in the frozen accounts would face legal action, said Kaewsan Atipho, the ASC secretary.


    The ASC has frozen all the bank accounts of Mr Thaksin and his wife. In addition, it froze 21 accounts with deposits related to the sale of Shin Corp shares to Temasek Holdings.


    These accounts belong to Mr Thaksin's two grown-up children, Panthongtae and Pinthongta, Mr Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra and Khunying Potjaman's stepbrother Bannapot Damapong, Mr Kaewsan told a press conference.


    The ASC will unfreeze those assets if Mr Thaksin and Khunying Potjaman can verify within 60 days that they earned those assets through legal means.


    Mr Kaewsan said the ASC is authorised to order the freeze by announcement No. 30 of the Council for Democratic Reform (CDR), the Sept 19 coup makers _ now the Council for National Security.


    CDR announcement No.30 authorises the ASC to freeze assets of state officials suspected of malfeasance or corruption and to unfreeze them if the suspected state officials can prove all the assets were not obtained by such means within the timeframe set by the ASC.


    Mr Kaewsan said the Shinawatra and Damapong families netted 73 billion baht when they sold Shin Corp shares to Singapore-based Temasek Holdings. But the ASC found the money in the frozen bank accounts came to only 52 billion baht as of June 4. The panel would trace the other 20 billion baht that has disappeared from the accounts.


    The ASC has no access to the Shinawatra family's bank accounts at UBS Bank in Singapore, he added.


    Mr Thaksin and the five others must submit to the ASC documents on their Shin share transactions and UBS Bank accounts within 60 days as well, he said.


    ''This [the assets freeze] is a measure to retain the assets involved. It is not a punishment. It is not the final judgement,'' said Mr Kaewsan.


    ''The ASC insists we are not prejudiced and that we were not given an order [to freeze the assets]. We do so as we are authorised by the CDR's announcement No. 30 to ensure justice,'' said ASC spokesman Sak Korsaengrueng.


    ''I am not worried. If they want to come, I cannot stop them,'' ASC chairman Nam Yimyaem said, when asked about the possibility of a pro-Thaksin rally at the ASC's headquarters.


    Mr Kaewsan said the ASC ordered the freeze after it found enough evidence to allege Mr Thaksin was involved in five malfeasance cases and six of abuse of power to obtain unusual wealth.


    Of the five malfeasance cases, the ASC had already forwarded the 772-million-baht land deal to the public prosecutor and the prosecutor had made indictments. Another four cases are under ASC investigation, Mr Kaewsan said.


    Noppadon Pattama, Mr Thaksin's close aide, said yesterday his boss was bewildered by the ASC's orders and would seek justice through the courts of law.


    ''I will set up a legal team to file criminal and civil lawsuits against the ASC,'' Mr Noppadon said.


    Mr Thaksin's aide said that the deposed leader saw the move as unjust and nothing but political intimidation.


    Mr Thaksin never attempted to bring the assets out of the country and he was presumed innocent, said Mr Noppadon.


    He said the ASC's alleged evidence of wrongdoings by Mr Thaksin would be thrown out by the courts.


    ''The ASC seeks to discredit Mr Thaksin and its course of action does not follow the rule of law. We will work to get every member of the ASC to court,'' he said.

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