Millennium Post

Thai protest leader gets 20 years’ jail for fraud

Thailand’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a 20-year prison sentence for fraud for a media tycoon, whose crusade to oust a prime minister succeeded, triggering a decade of political violence and instability.

The court affirmed a lower court’s 2012 ruling that Sondhi Limthongkul violated Securities and Exchange Commission regulations in 1996-97 by presenting fraudulent financial data to obtain a large bank loan for one of his businesses. He was also accused of not informing the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the board and shareholders of the company guaranteeing the loan, which fell into default.

Two of his associates in his Manager Group who were involved also had their 20-year sentences affirmed today. Sondhi, 68, also was the founder of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which sought to force then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to step down in 2006 for alleged corruption and disrespect toward King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thaksin was then ousted in a military coup, but his supporters and opponents continue to contend for power.

Sondhi was one of a generation of Thai business entrepreneurs who built their empires during the boom years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, taking advantage of a loose regulatory climate. He expanded a mostly print-based media empire focusing on business coverage and diversified into other fields, including satellite communications and tourism.

His circle of up and coming businessmen friends included Thaksin, who was a pioneer in the mobile phone sector as well as cable television. 
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