The Supreme Court spelled out how Thaksin’s actions as prime minister helped his corporate empire. His government’s policies and actions and his telecom empire’s frequent moves to seek state leniency or assistance were too intertwined to be ignored.
The following are the rulings by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders in the cases involving abuse of power by former premier Thaksin Shinawatra to benefit Shin Corp:
Holding shares of Shin Corp through nominees
The nine judges ruled unanimously that the defendant concealed his holding of 1.41 million shares in Shin Corp through nominees, such as his children and other relatives. The court ruled that Thaksin was actually holding the shares during his two terms as prime minister. After becoming prime minister in 2001, the defendant still maintained his authority in implementing policies and appointing board members of the company.
Conversion of telecom concession fees into excise tax
The majority of judges ruled that the defendant used his authority through the Cabinet to pass laws that converted telecom concession fees into excise tax, which benefited Shin Corp, the owner of Advanced Info Service (AIS). The move cost the state Bt60 billion in lost revenue.
The court said the Cabinet resolution severely weakened state agency TOT, which had awarded AIS the mobile-phone concession. The resolution also made it more difficult for new operators to compete fairly with original operators like AIS.
Reduction of revenue paid to TOT for prepaid mobile-phone services
The judges ruled by a majority that mobile-phone operator AIS benefited from the reduction of revenue it had to share with TOT for offering prepaid phone services.
Amendment to the mobile-phone roaming contract
The majority of judges ruled that AIS benefited from an amendment to its roaming contract with TOT. The amendment allowed AIS to share any available network with other companies instead of investing more to set up a new network. The court said AIS obtained Bt6.9 billion in benefits from the changes to the original contract while Thaksin was still a shareholder. However, the majority of the judges ruled that the defendant did not benefit from the changes to the roaming contract because when it took effect, he had already sold his shares in Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings, the present owner of AIS.
The court ruled by a majority that Thaksin had exercised his authority for the benefit of Shin Corp and Shin Satellite (now called Thaicom). Members of his Cabinet had allowed the company to change the terms of the concession contract to launch iPSTAR as the main satellite rather than launching a back-up satellite for Thaicom3 as promised in the contract.
Thaksin had promised in 1991 as the president of Shin Satellite and Shin Corp to launch a satellite with C-band and KU-band transponders as back-up for Thaicom3. However, iPSTAR – launched in 2005 – had a different technology for high-speed Internet with a KU-band transponder, rather than the C-band. Moreover only 6 per cent of iPSTAR’s transponders were used for domestic service, and the rest for the international market. The newly launched satellite was contrary to the original concession contract, which was to be meant mainly for domestic communication.
Amendment of the concession contract to reduce Shin Corp’s share proportion in Shin Satellite
The court ruled that the amendment of the concession contract to allow Shin Corp to cut its share holding in Shin Satellite reduced Shin Corp’s financial burden. Surapong Suebwonglee, then information and communication technology minister, granted permission to Shin Corp to reduce its share proportion in Shin Satellite from a maximum of 51 per cent to 40 per cent. The reduction of the share proportion also affected national communications security.
Loan to Burma
The court ruled by a majority that Thaksin had abused his power by providing Bt4 billion to Burma to buy broadband Internet to benefit Shin Corp and Shin Satellite. The move also caused damage to the national budget. Thaksin had instructed the Export-Import Bank to open a credit line to Burma at a low interest rate. The Finance Ministry had to allocate funds from the national budget to subsidise such a low rate for the bank, which cost the exchequer Bt14 million in the 2006/2007 fiscal year. The court said it was unnecessary for Thailand to grant the loan to Burma.
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