Potjaman Na Pombejra

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Potjaman Na Pombejra
Born Potjaman Damapong
(1956-11-22) 22 November 1956 (age 57)
Spouse(s) Thaksin Shinawatra (1980–2008)
Children Panthongtae Shinawatra
Pinthongtha Shinawatra
Praethongthan Sinawatra
Parents Samoe Damapong
Potjanee Na Pombejra
Relatives Preawpan Damapong (Brother)
Poonsuk Banomyong (Cousin)
Pimpen Vejjajiva (Cousin)

Khunying Potjaman Na Pombejra[1] (Thai: พจมาน ณ ป้อมเพชร; RTGS: Photchaman Na Pomphet), formerly Potjaman Shinawatra (Thai: พจมาน ชินวัตร; RTGS: Photchaman Chinnawat), née Soypetpotjaman Damapong (Thai: สร้อยเพชรพจมาน ดามาพงศ์; RTGS: Soiphetphotchaman Damaphong),[2] (born: November 22, 1956), is the ex-wife of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

She has one son, Panthongtae, a businessman, and two daughters, Pinthongta and Paetongtarn, both students.

Early life[edit]

Potjaman played a key role in the development of Thaksin's commercial enterprises in the 1980s.[citation needed]

Sale of Shin Corp[edit]

On January 23, 2006, the Shinawatra family sold their entire stake in Shin Corporation to Temasek Holdings. The Shinawatra and Damapong families netted about 73 billion baht tax-free from the sale, using a regulation that made individuals who sell shares on the stock exchange exempt from capital gains tax.[3]

The Thailand Securities and Exchange Commission investigated the transaction and cleared the entire family from wrongdoing, except for Potjaman's son, Panthongtae.[4] The SEC did find that Panthongtae committed minor infractions with regard to information disclosure and public tender offers in transactions between 2000 and 2002. He was fined 6 million THB (about 150,000USD).[5] Allegations of insider trading by Potjaman, other Shinawatra family members, Shin Corporation Corp executives, and major shareholders were also investigated. No irregularities were found. On 21 September 2006, the Revenue Department sent a letter to the Shinawatras advising the Shinawatra family not to pay taxes on the transaction. Also in 2006, Revenue Department Director-General Sirot Sawadpanish testified to the military junta's Assets Examination Committee that the transaction was not taxable.[6] The junta investigated Sirot and 6 other senior Ministry of Finance officials for their role in dispensing legal advice regarding the transaction.[7] The AEC demanded that Potjaman testify to the Committee, and threatened to jail her if she did not.[8][9]

Ratchadaphisek land purchase controversy[edit]

After Thaksin was deposed by a military coup, the junta-appointed Assets Examination Committee accused her of irregularities in the purchase of government-owned land. However, the Bank of Thailand, which supervised the sale of the land, claimed that the sale was conducted properly.[10]

In January 2007, the Financial Institutions Development Fund complied with the Assets Examination Committee request to file a charge against Thaksin and his wife over their purchase of four 772 million baht plots of land from the FIDF in 2003. The charge was based on alleged violation of Section 100 of the National Counter Corruption Act, which specifies that government officials and their spouses are prohibited from entering into or having interests in contracts made with state agencies under their authorisation. However, Section 4 of the Act indicates that persons committing malfeasance must be direct supervisors of the damaged party - in this case, the FIDF. At the time, Bank of Thailand Governor Pridiyathorn Devakula directly supervised the FIDF, not Thaksin.[11] Section 29 of the Bank of Thailand Act of 1942 stated that the Prime Minister did not have jurisdiction to oversee the FIDF, because those managing the fund had sole authority for policies, control, oversight and regulations governing the agency.[12] Pridiyathorn's testimony to the court occurred in secret - Thaksin's legal team was not allowed in the room. The FIDF later noted that the land was sold to the Shinawatras at a price greater than its appraised value.[13] The case went to the Supreme Court 10 July 2007.[14]

Verdict[edit]

On 21 October 2008, the Supreme Court of Thailand's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions delivered a verdict on the Ratchadaphisek Land purchasing case, ruling that:

As Thaksin and wife defended themselves that the FIDF was not an administrative agency or state enterprise, and Thaksin, as the Prime Minister, had no powers and duties to supervise, scrutinise or monitor the Fund, resulting that the land purchasing case was not a conflict of interest.

The Court: By unanimous resolution, holding that the Fund was the administrative agency under Section 100, Subsection (1), of the National Counter Corruption Organic Act, BE 2542 (1997). By 6:3, holding that Thaksin was a de facto supervisor of the Fund. By 7:2, holding that Potjaman was not a holder of political position or public authority prohibited under Section 122 of the Organic Act. And by unanimous resolution, holding that the purchased land and all other proprieties gained in this case could not be seized under Section 33, Subsection 1 and Subsection 2 of the Criminal Code.

Therefor, Thaksin was found guilty of abusing his power to help his wife purchasing the land at a knock-down price, being sentenced to two years in imprisonment. All accusations against Potjaman in the case shall lapse together with the arrest warrant whereof. However, as Thaksin was dwelling aboard, the arrest warrant was issued to bring him back to the domestic punishment.[15]

Soon after the verdict was handed down, Thaksin gave a telephone interview to Reuters, stating he had expected the imprisonment term. He was quoted as remarking that "I have been informed of the result. I had long anticipated that it would turn out this way," and adding that the case was politically motivated.[16]

Judgment[edit]

Thaksin Shinawatra's wife Pojaman Shinawatra, 51, who was found guilty on July 31, 2008, and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, was released on 5 million baht bail. Bangkok Criminal Court Judge Pramote Pipatpramote also convicted her adopted brother Bhanapot Damapong, and her secretary: "The three defendants have high economic and social status. But, they were working together to avoid taxes, even though the taxes amounted to little compared to their assets."[17][18]

Request for asylum in Britain[edit]

On August 10, 2008, Thaksin and his wife Khunying Potjaman flew to London from Beijing, where he had been attending the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony. In doing so he violated the terms of his bail.[19] Thaksin said that it was his wish to return to Thailand someday, but claimed it was not currently safe enough for him and his family.[20][21] Thaksin announced his intention to seek political asylum in Britain.[22] His 3 children had reportedly flown ahead to Britain.[23] Meanwhile, Thailand's Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for both Thaksin and his wife for jumping bail.[24]

Thai Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsrang Niempradit and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva accused Thaksin of hurting Thailand and damaging its reputation: "His Majesty the King recognizes highly the importance of the judiciary … The public should follow him."[25]

Arrest warrants[edit]

On September 17, Chief Justice Thonglor Chom-ngarm and the judges unanimously postponed the reading of the verdict to October 21 at 2 pm, and issued the fresh arrest warrant for Thaksin and his wife, Pojaman.[26][27]

Cancellation of UK visa[edit]

On November 10, 2008, the Department of Foreign Affairs (Philippines) Undersecretary Franklin Ebdalin stated "the government would 'politely' turn down any request for political refuge from the fugitive Thai leader, xxx due to Manila’s “friendly” relations with Bangkok. If an applicant for political asylum insists, the first thing the friendly country customarily does is to send him back to his home country. The Department of Foreign Affairs had not received “feelers” that Thaksin wanted haven in the Philippines. Of course, he wouldn’t want to be embarrassed, that’s why I don’t think he would make such a request. He’s no ordinary figure. He’s a former prime minister of Thailand.”[28] Amid Thai newspapers' reports that Thaksin may land in Manila, his brother-in-law, Somchai Wongsawat, was set to arrive for a scheduled state visit on November 10 with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (bilateral meeting on regional global financial crisis).[29][30]

The British Government Home Office revoked Potjaman Shinawatra and Thaksin's visas, while the Bangkok British Embassy e-mailed airlines advisory directing them to disallow Thaksin or his wife from boarding flights to the United Kingdom.[31] But Thaksin's spokesman, Phongthep Thepkanjana, said: "I spoke with Thaksin's secretary and he said that Thaksin still had not been notified by the British government." Thaksin was reported to be travelling in East Asia, having been forced to look for a home. Thaksin still remains honorary president of the Manchester City Football Club, which he sold in August.[32] Thaksin had considered sanctuaries such as China, the Philippines and the Bahamas. The Times reported the Thaksins were granted Bahamas honorary citizenship and the couple are building a £5.5 million home in China. The visa revocation rendered moot the UK extradition issue, but Thai prosecutors complained "it would now be harder to keep track of him, and he could end up in a country with which Thailand does not have an extradition treaty." Somchai Wongsawat said: “The revoking of the visas is the decision by the Government of Great Britain. We cannot criticise.”[33]

Meanwhile, Thaksin's attorney, Udom Prongfa filed a counter-charge against Veera Somkwamkid with the Crime Suppression Division (CSD): "Mr Veera went ahead and filed the charge even after the Royal Thai Police Office had concluded Mr Thaksin had done nothing wrong." Also, thousands of Thaksin supporters at the stadium gathered and claimed that only "royal kindness or the power of the people" could bring him home.[34]

Extradition[edit]

Sirisak Tiypan, director general for international affairs of the Office of the Attorney General, said: "No matter China or the Philippines, we have an extradition treaty with both countries." Thaksin may appeal the guilty verdict until November 22 but prosecutors are working on extradition documents. Sirisak added "that even if Thaksin decides to live in a country with which Thailand has no extradition treaty, authorities could ask for him to be handed over on a reciprocal basis." Bahamas, Bermuda and African countries without extradition treaties with Thailand have reportedly offered to take in Thaksin and his wife.[35][36]

Wealth Concealing[edit]

Transferring Shares to children who reached maturity[edit]

There has been a controversy on whether there is any hidden interest when Thaksin and Potjamn transferred their Shin Corp. shares to their children. Panthongtae and Pinthongtharn Shinawatra were accused of being nominees of their parents. Potjamn transferred her shares to Parnthongtae was said to have been a setup. For Panthongtae’s case, the shares have been sold to him at cost price. Prior the transfer, Panthongtae had written an agreement to settle a ฿4.5billion baht debt for buying 300 million shares of Thai Military Bank(TMB) to Potjaman. In which the real value of TMB share at that time was ฿1.5billion baht. This means that there has been a “fake debt” worth of ฿3billion baht.[37]

The Assets Examination Committee (AEC) later revealed that Panthongtae’s account that receives Shin Corp. dividend has been transferring money to Potjamn’s account exceeds the debt to ฿1.1Billion baht.

Pintongtha was accused of being another nominee of her parents. In response to the accusation, she said that her mother gave her a certain amount of money to buy Shin Corp. shares from her brother, Panthongtae. Potjamn gave money to he daughter to buy 367 million shares of Shin Corp. which leaves Panthongtae an equal amount of shares. Pintongtha's account has been receiving dividend from Shin Corp and there has not been any transaction between Pintongtha’s account and Potjamn’s account. However, the money was used to buy SC Asset shares from WinMark worth of ฿71 million baht and buy shares from another 5 real-estate firms from 2 funds in 2004 worth of ฿485 million baht.

DSI, AEC, and Securities and Exchange Commission later revealed common information that WinMark and the two funds are owned by Thaksin and Potjamn Shinawatra. Potjaman responded the accusation that she did not own Winmark, neither her husband. The company is however owned by a real-estate firm from the middle east.[38][39]

Transferring to relatives[edit]

Bannapot Damapong, Potjaman Shinawatra’s brother-in law, was charged with wealth concealing of Shin Cop. Shares. Bannapot, co-founder of Shin Corp., was believed to own 1.62% of the company’s shares right from the beginning when the company turned public. Howeverm 10.75% was accused of being a nominee to Potjaman Shinawatra. The 10.75% is the separated into two sections. The first section worth of 1.62%, Bannapot used Potjaman’s money to buy the shares to increase his holdings. The 9.13% leftover was accused as being a fraud. The transaction made it look like that Bannapot was buying shares from Potjaman. But the promissory note for buying the shares was accused of being made up after the incident as the name of Potjaman was stated as “Lady Potjaman” where at the time of the transaction; her status was not yet a lady.

Royal decorations[edit]

Khunying Potjaman has received the following royal decorations in the Honours System of Thailand:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kesinee Taengkhiew. 2010, 13 January. "Thaksin's judgement day". The Nation. [Online]. Available: <click>. (Accessed: 22 January 2010).
  2. ^ Potjamarn Shinawatra: Commander behind the Curtain or Looser at the End of the Cliff? (in Thai). Bangkok: Ruam Duai Chaui Kan. 2005. p. 220. ISBN 974-9785-94-0. 
  3. ^ "Complex transaction a model for avoiding tax, ownership law". The Nation. January 27, 2006. 
  4. ^ "Thai PM's son violated disclosure laws: SEC". Yahoo News. February 24, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Panthongtae escapes with a relatively light penalty". The Nation. March 11, 2006. 
  6. ^ The Nation, Shinawatra siblings to take fight to top court, 27 November 2006
  7. ^ The Nation, Top official shifts blame: Collection down to Revenue: Suparut, 4 July 2007
  8. ^ The Nation, Pojaman gets jail warning, 7 June 2007
  9. ^ The Nation, Wife of exiled PM asks AEC to delay hearing on sales of Shin stocks, 19 June 2007
  10. ^ The Nation, Pojaman purchase lawful: BOT, 2 November 2006
  11. ^ The Nation, FIDF to sue ousted premier, Pojaman, 16 January 2007
  12. ^ The Nation, Pridiyathorn speaks up for Pojaman, 19 April 2007
  13. ^ The Nation, Fund 'was not aware' it sold land plot for loss, 24 January 2007
  14. ^ Asia-Pacific, BBC News, Thai court will open ex-PM case, 10 July 2007
  15. ^ BBC. (2008, 21 October). Thai ex-PM guilty of corruption. [Online]. Available: < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7681416.stm >. (Accessed: 21 October 2008).
  16. ^ Bangkok Post. (2008, 21 October). Thaksin guilty of corruption. [Online]. Available: < http://www.bangkokpost.com/topstories/topstories.php?id=131548 >. (Accessed: 21 October 2008).
  17. ^ ap.google.com, Thaksin's wife found guilty of tax evasion[dead link]
  18. ^ iht.com/articles, Ex-Thai PM's wife guilty of tax fraud
  19. ^ online.wsj.com, Thaksin to Live in U.K. Amid Court Case in Thailand
  20. ^ news.bbc.co.uk, Ex-Thai PM 'will remain in UK'
  21. ^ www.reuters, RPT-UPDATE 2-Ex-Thai PM Thaksin skips bail, stocks jump
  22. ^ smashits.com, Former Thai premier seeks asylum in Britain
  23. ^ english.people, Thaksin seeks asylum in Britain
  24. ^ in.reuters.com, Thai Supreme Court issues Thaksin arrest warrant
  25. ^ upi.com, Thaksin accused of hurting Thailand
  26. ^ gmanews.tv, Thai court issues fresh warrant for ex-PM Thaksin
  27. ^ bernama.com, Thai Court Postpones Verdict Against Ousted Premier Thaksin, Wife On Land Case
  28. ^ newsinfo.inquirer.net, RP closes door on Thaksin
  29. ^ afp.google.com/article, Philippine asylum for Thaksin unlikely: foreign dept official
  30. ^ channelnewsasia.com, Philippine foreign dept official says asylum for Thaksin unlikely
  31. ^ www.iht.com, U.K. visa revoked, Thaksin looks for new home
  32. ^ news.bbc.co.uk, UK revokes former Thai PM's visa
  33. ^ timesonline.co.uk, Home Office bars Thaksin Shinawatra from returning to Britain
  34. ^ www.bangkokpost.com, Thaksin lawyer files counter-charge against Veera
  35. ^ www.channelnewsasia.com, Thailand to push Thaksin extradition wherever he goes
  36. ^ afp.google.com, Thailand to push Thaksin extradition wherever he goes: officials
  37. ^ The Nation, [1] Door now open for more agencies to reclaim their money, March 1, 2010,
  38. ^ Bangkok Post, [2] Potjaman insists family assets of B76bn were legally earned, 16 september 2009
  39. ^ BangkokBizNews, [3] ซุกหุ้น 301 : เคล็ดวิชาขั้นสูงจากคดียึดทรัพย์ พ.ต.ท.ทักษิณ ชินวัตร (1), 5 March 2010
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Pakdiporn Sucharitakul
First Lady of Thailand Succeeded by
Chitravadee Chulanont