Panthongtae  Shinawatra
Panthongtae Shinawatra

DSI chief defends probe into Panthongtae

politics September 09, 2017 01:00

By The Nation

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The Anti-Money Laundering Office will next week make clear what action it will take against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s son, Panthongtae, accused in a money laundering case involving Krungthai Bank in 2008, said Department of Special Investigation chief Pol General Pisit Wongmuang yesterday.

The chief insisted that the DSI was investigating based on the evidence and had no intention to bully anyone. All the documentary evidence had been acquired legally, and the investigation had followed due process, he added.

The Thaksin camp, however, accused the regime of abusing the justice system to suppress political opposition.

Chusak Sirinil, head of Pheu Thai Party’s legal department said the case against Panthongtae should have been dropped since the anti-graft agency had decided not to take action. 

Instead, the case was revived after the 2014 coup, he said. A DSI deputy director had been replaced along with the investigation team before the recent decision to take Panthongtae to court, Chusak added. 

“Considering all these events, we must question whether this is using legal power for a political purpose,” he said.

Key red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikua made a similar claim, saying the DSI deputy chief was transferred for failing to respond to an order to speed up the investigation. This showed power had been abused to put pressure on the justice system to tackle a political adversary, he said.

Thaksin’s son was accused of involvement in a money-laundering scheme whereby loans from Krungthai bank were allegedly illegally approved. But authorities failed to find sufficient evidence to prosecute him. 

Nattawut said that Panthongtae had been cleared but was now being unfairly charged. 

“We have to be careful about this. It could add fuel to the flames of the political divide,” he said. “Although nothing suggests that this involves people in the government, it is a point of concern that people might start to have doubts.”