Published on November 23, 2007
The Assets Examina-tion Commission (AEC) yesterday indicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and 46 others, including most of his Cabinet members for their joint decision to launch the controversial two- and three-digit lottery in 2003.
The 50-page AEC indictment, which will be made public on Monday, also demanded that all the 47 indicted people jointly pay Bt38 billion to the government - Bt22.9 billion for lost revenue due to tax exemption granted to the lottery for more than two years, and another Bt16 billion in lost revenue for the Government Lottery Office (GLO).
The 47 were accused of violating the 1974 Government Lottery Act for their role in initiating and approving the lottery without authorisation, of violating the 1948 Treasury Reserves Act, for unauthorised spending of money earned through sale of the lottery, and of violating three monetary laws for illegally acquiring tax exemption privileges.
The indictees are divided into three groups - Thaksin and his Cabinet members who attended the July 8, 2003 meeting and approved the lottery; members of the GLO's executive board; and members of a GLO panel that considered and approved for charity the proceeds earned through sale of lottery.
Among the 47 are 30 former Cabinet members, excluding former education minister Pongpol Adireksarn and former deputy interior minister Pramual Rujanaseri, who were not indicted because they did not attend the meeting on the day.
The other groups include senior officials with related government agencies including the GLO, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Comptroller-General's Department, and two former finance ministry permanent secretaries.
Thaksin, former finance minister Suchart Chaowisit and former deputy finance minister Warathep Ratta-nakorn have been accused for their decision to operate the lottery. They have been charged with receiving unlawful benefits for themselves, apart from seven other offences.
The GLO's board members and members of the panel have been charged with an additional offence under a special law.
The AEC charged that the Bt22-billion loss incurred through the tax exemption had denied revenue of Bt 8.8 billion to the Finance Ministry, Bt12 billion to the Interior Ministry and Bt336 million to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
The indictment said the lottery had also resulted in "immeasurable" social disorder such as increased gambling among punters during the two-year operation, which drew Bt657 million from punters in the first drawing on August 1, 2003, and Bt2.8 billion in its last drawing on September 15 last year, four days before the military coup.
The Supreme Court's Criminal Tribunal for Political Office Holders and the Office of Attorney-General will jointly proceed further with the cases against the indictees.