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LET JUSTICE BE DONE

Thaksin guilty, Bt46 bn seized, Bt30 bn returned



Morning: About three companies of policemen are deployed to guard the Suprme Court compound and surrounding areas.

Red Siam rally site at Sanam Luang sees sparse crowds following last night rally. Organisers ask protesters to reassemble in the afternoon to monitor the verdict.

Security measures stepped up at Parliament, Government House, Si Sao Thewes residence of chief royal adviser General Prem Tinsulannonda, Chan Song La residence of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra's family and the stock market.

7.30 am:  Nine Supreme Court judges arrive in a bullet-proof car. Tight security at court building,

8.30 am:  People's Channel, pro-Thaksin satellite broadcasting, airs a taped Thaksin speech urging his supporters not to assemble at the court building.

Thaksin said he would monitor the live broadcast of the verdict in Dubai and that none of his family members would attend the verdict session.

In his speech and his Twitter message, Thaksin insists on his innocence, arguing he is not a cheater and that his wealth has been honestly earned and not ill-gotten gains.

9.30 am: Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban says the situation is stable. He pledges to safeguard the judges in doing their job. He ensures the public that the government has the contingency plan to deal with any disturbances.

He also allays the concern for a coup, saying he guarantees there will be no military intervention.

9.10 am: Nine Supreme Court judges seen entering their private chamber to debate the Bt76 billion asset seizure case.

The judges are expected to read out their individual opinions before forming the judicial decision.

Wireless signals are jammed to prevent leaks.

By 10.00 am: Democrats and Pheu Thai MPs start arriving at their respective parties to monitor the situation.

Red shirts in Udon Thani congregate at a pro-Thaksin radio station to keep tap on the verdict.

Red shirts in Chiang Mai assemble at an empty lot in front of Waroros Grand Palace Hotel.

11.30 am: Thaksin may phone in via a video link to his Pheu Thai supporters while the verdict is being read this afternoon, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit says.

The video link will take place at Phue Thai headquarters on Rama IV Road. The main opposition party has set up two large projectors for live broadcast of the verdict. Party supporters are expected to turn out in full force.

Key figures in the pro-Thaksin camp, including Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, Somchai Wongsawat, Yaowapha Wongsawat, Pongthep Thepkanchana, Chaturon Chaisang, Chusak Sirinil and Sukhumpong Ngonkham are scheduled to arrive at the party headquarters before the verdict session at 1.30 pm.

After the judges read out the verdict, the Pheu Thai legal team will issue a statement. Thaksin is scheduled to give an interview reacting to his verdict via the video link. Web-based TV journalist Tuangporn Asvavilai is in Dubai to act as his interviewer.

11.45 am: Red Siam rally organiser Surachai Danwattananusorn says protesters would not move to the Supreme Court compound regardless of the outcome of the verdict.

The Red Siam rally site is at Sanam Luang, Surachai says, denying the linkage to the verdict on the asset seizure case.

Before noon, Chart Thai Pattana Party spokesman Watchara Kannikar calls on parties concerned to respect the judicial decision. If rival camps continue to carry on the fight, then the political struggle might escalate into a civil war, he says.

Watchara urges the authorities to exercise restraints and refrain from using force to crackdown on protesters. And the military should not exploit the situation to seize power, he says.

1.15 pm:  In his video link message to Pheu Thai Party, Thaksin calls on his supporters to join him in listening in to the verdict.

He says he views the verdict as the historic moment signalling the major change following a long political struggle.

He says he braces well for the verdict.

"The ball is now not in our court, it is up to how the other would play and direct the ball," he says, ahead of the verdict session.

1.30 pm: Judges start reading the verdict by outlining the prosecution case

The high court begins by outlining the prosecution argument detailing Thaksin's equity structure in Shin Corp. The prosecution contends equity structure was designed to conceal true ownership.

The next issue is the conversion of telecom concession fees into excise charges to favour the family-controlled Shin Corp.

The other prosecution point is the adjustment of the revenue sharing agreement on pre-paid mobile phone services to benefit Advanced Information Service.

The prosecution contends Thaksin's interference in regulating the telecom industry to benefit his family-controlled telecom group, boosting its market valuation.

The prosecution outlines Thaksin's involvement to fix the concession contract on satellite communications. Because of his meddling, ThaiCom 4, a designated satellite for back-up communications, was cancelled and replaced by the launching of IPStar which allows the operator to start the satellite service for Internet instead of fulfilling the original ageement on satellite communications.

The prosection contends Thaksin's inference in satellite communications has inflicted Bt4 billion damage to the state and left a long-lasting impact on the country's communications security.

The prosecution contends Thaksin's involvement to grant Exim Bank loans to Burma in order to benefit the telecom and satellite businesses of his family business empire. Under Thaksin's instruction, the loans were increased from Bt3 billion to Bt4 billion.

The prosecution contends Thaksin's involvement in increasing the equity cap on the telecom business to pave way for him and his family to sell their Shin Corp stakes to a foreign buyer.

The Asset Examination Committee has frozen Bt66 billion of Bt76 billion sought as compensation to damage caused by conflict-of-interest decisions.

2.50 pm: Judges begins to outline the defence arguments.

The defence contends Thaksin filed his asset statements as prescribed by the anti-graft law.

The defence contends Thaksin openly transferred his equity stakes to his children before assuming office.

The defence contends the AEC was biased in trying to fault Thaksin. The AEC conducted iits investigation based on expediency and not prescribed procedures. For example, the AEC claimed the shares belonging to Thaksin's children when it ruled on tax liability. But it insisted Thaksin had full control of the shares when it wanted to prosecute him for abuse of power and conflict of interest.

In rebutting charges related to telecom business, the defence contends Thaksin's leadership following precribed  procedures and implementing all policies sanctioned by the laws.

The defence contends the wealth of Thaksin and family was earned before assuming office.

The defence contends the wealth distributed from Thaksin to his children was genuine and not a scam for asset concealment.

The defence cites the statutory limitation as ground for dismissal, arguing the AEC indicts Thaksin after he left office for more than two years.

The defence contends the AEC failed to follow prescribed steps for indicting Thaksin and freezing the assets.

The defence contends the National Anti Corruption Commission was not appointed under the constitutionally-sanctioned procedures, hence it had no mandate to carry on the defunct AEC in prosecuting Thaksin.

The defence cites the statutory limitation as ground for dismissal, arguing the AEC indicts Thaksin after he left office for more than two years.

The defence contends the AEC failed to follow prescribed steps for indicting Thaksin and freezing the assets.

The defence contends the National Anti Corruption Commission was not appointed under the constitutionally-sanctioned procedures, hence it had no mandate to carry on the defunct AEC in prosecuting Thaksin.

3.50pm: Judges begins to read the ruling by outlining the non-contested issues and the business ties between Thaksin and his family members.

First legal issue is whether the AEC has the mandate to probe Thaksin and seize the assets. The high court rules by an unanimous decision that the AEC was empowered to prosecute Thaksin.

Second legal issue is whether legal provisions can be applied to Thaksin in the wake of the coup and the suspension of the 1997 charter. The high court rules the suspended charter has not impacted on law enforcement.

Third legal issue is whether the coup announcement to form the AEC was legally sanctioned. The high court rules that the coup-issued law is classified as an equivalent to an act of Parliament, hence it is legally binding.

Fourth legal issue is whether the AEC violates the statutory of limitations. The high court rules that the AEC complete its job within the deadline.

On the fifth legal issue, the high court rules to endorse steps taken by the AEC and the NACC to conduct the inquiry, notify charges, review defence rebuttals and freeze assets.

On the seventh legal issue, the high court rules to endorse appointments in the AEC, the NACC and in relevant investigative panels.

On the ninth legal issue, the high court strikes down the defence argument related to biased opinions of three graft busters, Klanarong Chantik, Banjerd Singkhaneti and Kaewsan Atibhodi.

On the tenth legal issue, the high court dismisses the defence argument that the prosecution omits to prove criminal wrongdoing before asking for the asset seizure. At issue is the civil litigation on whether or not the accused amass unusual or illegal wealth due to his office. This is not a litigation about criminal wrongdoing.

The judges rules in the unanimous decision that the prosecution is just and has followed legally-sanctioned steps.

At 5.00 pm: The judges proceed to rule on the followings:

- By an unanimous decision, the prosecution is unclear on the extent of unusual wealth and how it is linked to abuse of office

- The high court believes Thaksin and family retain control over Shin Corp through their equity structure before and after becoming the prime minister

- The high court rules the conversion of concession fees to excise charges for mobile phone services was deemed favourable to Shin Corp, dampening competition.

- In regard to the adjustment of revenue sharing scheme for AIS pre-paid services, the high court rules that the new scheme was unnecessarily made favourable to the operator.

- Addressing the adjustment of roaming charges paid by AIS to its contractor Telephone Organisation of Thailand, the high court rules the charges were calculated to favour AIS.

- The high court rules in a majority decision that the adjusted rules for the telecom industry were designed to favour Shin Corp.

- In regard to satellite communications, the high court rules the revised contractual provision for ThaiCom deal were manipulated to designate IPStar as a back-up satellite even though its functions are different from ThaiCom. This allows the contractor to avoid launching ThaiCom4.

- The high court rules the decision to adjust satellite contractual provisions resulted in helping Shin Corp and ThaiCom to launch a new satellite without having to bid for a new concession.

- By a majority decision, the jugdes rule the ThaiCom deal was favourable to Shin Corp.

- The high court rules that Shin Corp, state concessionair holding the majority stakes in ThaiCom, diluted its equity in the satellite communications without the approval of the Cabinet.

- By a majority decision, the judges rule the equity dilution was favourable to Shin Corp.

- The high court finds the decision to allow ThaiCom to earmark an insurance claim from damaged ThaiCom3 satellite to lease a foreign satellite instead of launching a back-up satellite was arbitrary.

- By a majority decision, the judges rule such arbitrary decision to favour Shin Corp and ThaiCom.

- The high court finds that the approval of Exim Bank loans to Burma was part of the Thai foreign policy.

- It also uncovers that the telecom deal came up after Thaksin met Burmese leaders and that the deal was not in the original talks in Pegu, Burma to promote good neighbourly relations.

- The high court believes the Burmese request to increase the loans from Bt3 billion to Bt4 billion under concessionary terms was destined to pay for services provided by ThaiCom.

- By a majority decision, the judges rules the deal was favourable to Shin Corp and Thaicom. 

At 8.15: the judges move to address Thaksin's involvement in benefiting Shin Corp.

The high court finds Thaksin as prime minister and his ministers, including those from Finance, Industry and Information Communication and Technology were directly linked to deals deemed favourable to Shin Corp.

By a majority decision, the judges rule Thaksin abuse his office to benefit Shin Corp, AIS and ThaiCom.

The high court rules Thaksin's wealth is ill-gotten gains. The earnings from the Shin Corp deal to Temasek of Singapore is ill-gotten, hence can be confiscated by the state.

The high court then addresses the ground on asset seizure related to the wealth held by Thaksin's ex-wife.

The judges rule ill-gotten gains in the name of the spouse can be seized.

The judges outline two grounds to seize assets - unusual increase in wealth and abuse of office to beget the wealth.

The judges move to address that the dividend payments can be seized.

The judges say the original stakes owned by Thaksin before assuming office can not be seized.

By a majority decision, the seizable assets confined to dividend payment worth Bt6 billion and the capital gains worth Bt39 billion. The total seizure is Bt46 billion.






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