AIS founder Thaksin fails to answer resumed corruption charges

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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No surprise as former AIS tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra fails to turn up in court in Bangkok

The founder of Thai telecoms operator AIS did not turn up at the Supreme Court in Bangkok this week for a resumed hearing on charges of changing regulations in his favour.

Thaksin Shinawatra, who was prime minister of Thailand for 2001 until overthrown in a military coup in 2006, was alleged to have changed the regulations on telecom concession fees in favour of companies he owned while he ran the government.

Thaksin fled the country in August 2008, after the case had started, by getting a visa to visit the Beijing Olympics. According to one report, he is believed to be travelling on as many as six passports and was thought to be living in Dubai. AIS is now largely owned by the Singapore government investment arm, Temasek, and by Singtel.

Nearly a decade after Thaksin fled Thailand, the Supreme Court decided to reopen the case. According to reports from Bangkok, the court considered his no-show as a denial of the charges of malfeasance, dereliction of duty and violating the anti-corruption law. Thaksin failed to respond and did not nominate a lawyer.

This week’s hearing was adjourned, and the court set 10 July 2018 to resume – a decade less a day since he first went on trial.