Progress reported in case of illegal-lottery corruption
Three graft probes involving the Thaksin Shinawatra government are making headway, particularly the case on illegal lotteries.
After a two-week delay, the Finance Ministry yesterday filed an official complaint as the injured party in the ousted government's unlawful decision to sell two- and three-digit lotteries.
Under corruption law, the complaint paves the way for the Assets Examination Committee (AEC) to proceed to the indictment stage - as part of the preparations for prosecution.
In the complaint, the ministry named its permanent secretary, Suparut Kawatkul, as the culprit responsible for the lotteries debacle.
In his concurrent position as chairman of the Government Lottery Office (GLO) board, Suparut was the prime mover to push for the Cabinet's endorsement of the new lottery, which was later found to be on the market and classified as "charity for tax exemption" without legal basis.
Suparut resigned as GLO board chairman right after his deputy Sathit Limpongpan, acting on Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn's behalf, lodged the complaint yesterday.
Chalongphob appointed Comptroller General Piyapan Nimmanahaeminda as the new GLO board chairman.
While waiting for the complaint to be filed, the AEC decided to charge 32 ex-ministers, including Thaksin, and 17 senior lottery officials over the new lotteries.
In the Ample Rich probe involving Thaksin's two children, Panthongtae and Pinthongta, the Viroj Laohaphan subcommittee's report has spelled out income tax obligations worth Bt5.8 billion.
Thaksin's son and daughter have until Monday to file their respective income-tax returns and pay liable tax - or risk prosecution.
The case is related to the sale of the Shinawatra clan's majority stake in Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings last January.
Two days before the deal with via the stock market, paper company Ample Rich offloaded Shin shares stashed offshore to the two children at Bt1 per share to resell on the stock market at Bt49.
Based on a 1995 tax ruling, the two children are liable to report the share-price difference as income and cannot claim exemption, regardless of whether the transaction happened on or off the stock market.
In the Kularb Kaew case, another fallout of the Shin Corp deal, acting national police chief General Seripisut Temiyavej has threatened to issue an arrest warrant if a major stakeholder of Kularb Kaew Co fails to report to police by Friday.
Police earlier summoned Surin Upapatkul to acknowledge the charge of acting as a nominee to enable the Singaporean investment firm to overcome the cap on foreign ownership.