DSI accuses ‘Oak’ of money laundering

The Department of Special Investigation has summonsed Thaksin Shinawatra’s son Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra and three other people to acknowledge a money-laundering accusation involving Krungthai Bank’s lending in 2006.

Kanchanapa Honghern, a personal secretary to Mr Panthongtae’s mother Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, was also accused. The other two suspects are Mrs Kanchanapa’s husband Wanchai Honghern and her mother, Kesinee Jipipob. They have until Oct 24 to meet the DSI.

“After that, the suspects can give evidence against the accusation so investigators can decide whether to charge them. They can also choose not to give testimony to investigators. We have to send the case to prosecutors before the 15-year statute of limitations runs out in mid-2018,” a DSI source said.

The case dated back to 2006, when state-owned Krungthai Bank lent 9.9 billion baht to subsidiaries of SET-listed developer Krisdamahanakorn Plc (KMC) to refinance loans and for project development.

KMC was at the time in the non-performing loan group, a category that banks could not lend to according to Bangkok of Thailand rules.

Bank executives were found to have approved the loan because a “big boss” said there would be no problem. The court, however, decided there was not enough evidence to establish who the “big boss” was. 

It was found the money was later paid in hundreds of transactions, including 10 million baht to Mr Panthongtae and 26 million baht to Mrs Kesinee.

Mr Panthongtae explained Wichai Krisadatanon, a KMC executive, wrote him a 26-million-baht cheque and asked him to buy shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand on his behalf. Mr Panthongtae did not accept it and told him to ask Mrs Kesinee instead. The cheque payable to Mr Panthongtae was therefore cancelled and 26 million baht was transferred to Mrs Kesinee the next day to buy Ch.Karnchang shares under her name. Mrs Kesinee paid Wichai back with profit 2-3 months later after the shares were sold. 

For the 10-million-baht cheque, Mr Panthongtae argued the cheque was given to him by Wichai’s son Ratchada, who sought to co-invest with him in a car import business he was planning at the time. The project did not materialise because of complex regulations so he paid Ratchada back a year later, also by a cheque.

A panel set up by the 2006 coupmakers found irregularities in the lending and the National Anti-Corruption Commission took over the case. 

In 2015, the Supreme Court for politicians sentenced 16 people to 12 and 18 years in jail for malfeasance. They included three former top KTB executives and KMC executives, including Wichai and Ratchada.

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