Thai Court Seizes Chunk of Ousted Premier’s Fortune

BY Larisa Epatko  February 26, 2010 at 1:50 PM EDT

Thailand’s Supreme Court ruled Friday to strip former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of $1.4 billion of his $2.29 billion in frozen assets, saying much of his financial gain came from a misuse of power.

The nine justices said Thaksin hid his wealth and his ownership of shares in his family-owned telecommunications firm, Shin Corp, and made decisions in government to benefit the company, the Guardian reported.

However, the court let him keep the remainder of the assets, saying some of his money was made before he became prime minister.

Thaksin, who was removed from office by a military coup in 2006, monitored the proceedings in Dubai, where he lives in exile. He fled the country ahead of a 2008 conviction on a conflict of interest charge.

Friday’s ruling was broadcast live on national television, and security forces were on high alert in case violent protests erupted, reported the BBC.

But although there were small gatherings of Thaksin supporters, the large-scale pro-Thaksin protests of those in telltale red shirts, did not materialize, according to Patrick Winn, GlobalPost‘s Thailand reporter.

“The reaction in Thailand was a little anticlimactic. The government has been forewarning of these violent outbreaks and mass rallies that could sort of pop off after the decision. That didn’t happen,” said Winn.

Instead, Thaksin supporters are organizing a rally — hoping for at least 1 million participants — in Bangkok in mid-March, he said.

“So the city is still kind of holding its breath and wondering, you know, will there be violence, will there be a lot of unrest in the city. And that remains to be seen.”

Hear more of Winn’s description of the day’s events here: