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Thaksin Shinawatra

Named the ‘Knight of Telecommunications’, the 59-year old former PM of Thailand is in Dubai this week. He hasn’t had a good year, but perhaps he can look to his network of friends for help. Or maybe not.

November 16, 2008 4:08 by

Thaksin Shinawatra is a shrewd businessman. Some would say a little too shrewd. His financial dealings have resulted in convictions for both himself and his wife, both of whom have been given jail sentences. The conviction stems from a 2003 land deal he orchestrated involving his wife and state land. Apparently, he sold the land to his wife for one-third of the land’s value. He says he didn’t do it. His country’s court says he did. In October 2008 he was formally convicted of corruption for the 2003 land deal.

Thaksin wasn’t always a high flying, wanted man. Born in 1949 in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, he began his long career as a police man. At the age of 24, he received a government grant for a masters degree in criminal justice in the United States. However, when he returned to Thailand, he began working in telecommunications.

In 1983, he founded ICSI, a local dealer for IBM mainstream computers. His company then grew to become the Shinawatra Group.

In 1998, he founded the Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party, which later helped him become the prime minister of Thailand in 2001. However, his troubles began at the beginning of 2006, when he sold the Shinawatra Group for a reported $1.9 billion. Many Thais accused Thaksin of avoiding to pay taxes on the sale, which started a flurry of negative press and sentiments. In September 2006, a military coup ousted the prime minister.

In August 2008, he and his wife (who posted bail for charges in connection with the land purchase deal) fled to England.


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