The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions today acquitted fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on malfeasance charges related to the controversial rehabilitation package for the Thai Petrochemical Industry (TPI) in 2003.
The case was filed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) accusing Thaksin of malfeasance in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code by appointing Suchart Jaovisidha, the then finance minister, to head the rehabilitation plan for TPI, a publicly-listed petrochemical company which was facing a serious financial crisis.
The NACC reasoned that under the law, the finance minister did not have the authority to get involved in the administration of a private company. It said Thaksin, as prime minister, approved Mr Suchart’s proposal to rescue the financially-ailing TPI despite knowing such intervention was not legally permitted.
A panel of nine judges decided with a majority that in approving the Finance Ministry’s TPI rehabilitation plan, it could not be proven that Thaksin had the an intention of seeking benefits for himself or other persons.
They are of the opinion that the Finance Ministry’s rehabilitation plan was implemented with the consent of commercial banks concerned, debtors and the labour union and in consistent with an order from the Central Bankruptcy Court.
Today’s court ruling states that the Finance Ministry is a state agency responsible for solving the country’s economic problems. The ministry stepped in to help TPI with the rehabilitation plan because it was facing a financial crisis as a result of the devaluation of the baht by the Chavalit Government in 1997. The current devaluation triggered a financial crisis for many businesses with foreign debts, including TPI.
The NACC has 30 days to appeal the court ruling.