Court accepts lawsuit against firms formerly led by Thaksin

06 Oct 2006

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) A top Thai civil court accepted a lawsuit seeking to cancel licenses given to Thaksin Shinawatra's former business empire for various telecom services, in what could prove another blow to the ousted premier.

The lawsuit alleges that Shin, the former centerpiece of Thaksin's business empire that was sold to Singapore's state investment company, is no longer entitled to hold the licenses because the company's sale violated provisions of Thai law.

The Supreme Administrative Court accepted the case, and a ruling in favor of the lawsuit could strengthen graft allegations against Thaksin.

Shin, which holds licenses for communication satellites, mobile telephone services and television broadcasting, was sold Singapore's Temasek Holdings in January.

The deal was condemned by critics because Thaksin's family avoided paying any taxes on the sale and because it put what was deemed a strategic national asset into foreign hands.

The sale sparked massive street demonstrations that helped lead to the coup that toppled the businessman-turned-politician last month.

The judge said the agencies have been given 30 days to submit their arguments.

The former prime minister's family was one of the wealthiest in Southeast Asia even before he came into office in 2001.

He sold Shin for a tax-free 73.3 billion baht ($1.9 billion).

The military council which staged the coup against him September 19 has appointed a panel to investigate the sale as well as other assets owned by the toppled leader who now resides in London.

© 2006 The Associated Press

© 2006 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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