Shinawatra siblings may be slapped with Bt5 bn in tax, fines
The Office of Auditor-General (OAG) is expected to conclude the investigation into the tax scandal involving ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's children Panthongtae and Pinthongta this week, according to an informed source.
"We're confident they will be forced to pay personal income tax worth Bt5.8 billion," said the source.
Once the investigation is completed, the result will be forwarded to the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC). The source said that the OAG might ask the NCCC to file a lawsuit against senior tax officials at the Revenue Department who had been criticised for their refusal to tax Panthongtae and Pinthongta.
"Auditor-General Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka will decide whether the OAG recommends the NCCC to launch legal action against the officials," said the source.
The source said the investigative team at the OAG differed with the Revenue Department about whether Panthongtae and Pin-thongta should pay tax.
In January the two netted huge profits from the sale of Shin Corp's shares to Temasek Holdings. They bought the 329.2 million shares of Shin Corp at Bt1 apiece from Ample Rich Investments, their own company registered in the tax-haven British Virgin Islands. Then they resold them at Bt49.25 apiece.
Officials from the Revenue Department explained that they had sold the shares on the stock exchange, where capital-gains tax is waived. This nettled lawyers who said Panthongtae and Pinthongta should be taxed on the price differential. Investigators at the OAG estimate that the two should pay at least Bt5.85 billion and could be fined for failing to pay tax, said the source.
According to the source, five senior officials have been identi-fied for possible legal action. They are Revenue Department director general Sirote Swasdipanich, deputy director general Paitoon Pongke-sorn, director of the bureau of legal affairs Moreerat Boonya-siri, senior tax official Krich Vipulanusarn and Finance Minis-try inspector-general Bengja Louicharoen.
Meanwhile, a source at the Revenue Department said Sirote had apparently changed his stance following the military coup on September 19. Now he is likely to demand tax from the children of Thaksin, if the OAG says so.
If the OAG can wind up the Shin Corp deal matter this week, as the source thinks probable, it is likely to breath fresh life into an effort by the OAG and the Council for Democratic Reform to probe other controversial deals during the Thaksin administration.