Ousted Thai Prime Minister angry with Swiss banks after accounts frozen: paper


Reuters

ZURICH — Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vented his anger against Swiss banks on Wednesday, telling a local newspaper his accounts had been frozen and that the country’s vaunted banking secrecy was a thing of the past.

However, the Swiss embassy in Bangkok and a member of the Thai anti-graft panel set up to investigate allegations of corruption against him said they had no idea what Thaksin was talking about as there had been no requests for such action.

“This could be a tactic to win newspaper space,” said Jaruvan Maintaka, a member of the Asset Examination Committee (AEC) set up after last September’s military coup. “We know nothing about it since we didn’t do it,” she told Reuters.

Swiss newspaper Mittelland Zeitung quoted Thaksin in extracts from an interview scheduled for publication on Sept. 16 that Swiss banks had frozen some of his money and that he would be suing them “because my money is clean.” “Good old bank secrecy is no more. Absolute discretion is a thing of the past,” he said.

Graft investigators have frozen $1.5 billion in Thaksin’s Thai bank accounts and have issued arrest warrants for “official misconduct” in a Bangkok land deal and in connection with a share deal.

Thaksin, a former policeman who became one of Thailand’s richest men, is suing the AEC, demanding compensation for damage caused by the freezing of his assets.

The Swiss embassy in Bangkok said no financial crime treaties existed between the two countries, making it very hard for Thai authorities to make any formal request to freeze assets.

Furthermore, Swiss authorities would never contemplate action until solid evidence had come to light against Thaksin and he had been found guilty, embassy official Jacques Lauer said.

“There’s nothing. There’s been no evidence and we have not been approached in any way by the authorities,” he said.