Wife of deposed Thailand PM pleads not guilty to tax evasion

Wife of deposed Thailand PM pleads not guilty to tax evasion

[JURIST] Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], her brother Banpot Damapong, and her personal secretary Kanchanapa Honghern, pleaded not guilty Monday to two counts of tax evasion and perjury [JURIST report] at the Bangkok Criminal Court. The three allegedly failed to pay taxes on a 1997 transfer of stock in the Shin Corporation [corporate website, Wikipedia backgrounder], the family business founded by Thaksin in 1983 and formerly known as Shinawatra Computer. The Thaksin family earned an estimated $1.9 billion dollars tax-free and two of Thaksin's children owe the government $789 million in back taxes. If convicted, the defendants could face up to seven years in prison and fines up to $5,700. The events occurred before Thaksin took office in 2001.

The Royal Thai Army [official website] seized power from Thaksin last September in a bloodless military coup [JURIST report] that led 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. In February, the Assets Examination Committee, charged with investigating allegations of corruption by Thaksin and his family, recommended [JURIST report] that criminal tax evasions charges be brought against the former prime minister's wife, her brother and secretary. AFP has more.