[JURIST] Prosecutors in Thailand filed criminal tax evasion charges Monday against the wife of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive; BBC profile], Pojaman Shinawatra, as well as her secretary and her brother, Bhanapot Damapong. Shinawatra and her brother were arraigned by the Bangkok Criminal Court on two counts of evading taxes based on an alleged failure to pay taxes on their 1997 transfer of stock in Shin Corporation [corporate website; Wikipedia backgrounder], the family business founded by Thaksin in 1983 and formerly known as Shinawatra Computer. The alleged corruption scandal occurred before Thaksin took office in 2001. The Assets Examination Committee in Thailand [JURIST news archive], charged with investigating allegations of corruption by Thaksin Shinawatra and his family, recommended [JURIST report] in February that criminal tax evasion charges against Thaksin's wife, her brother and secretary be filed. Monday's charges are the first to be filed against a member of Thaksin's family. If convicted, Shinawatra and Damapong could face up to seven years in prison and fines up to $5,700.
The Royal Thai Army [official website] seized power from Thaksin in a bloodless military coup [JURIST report] September 19, leading to the imposition of martial law [JURIST news archive]. Since then, the new Thai government has struggled to find evidence [JURIST report] of Thaksin's alleged corruption prior to the coup. The Financial Times has more.