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Wife of deposed Thailand PM pleads not guilty to tax evasion

[JURIST] Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], her brother Banpot Damapong, and her personal secretary Kanchanapa Honghern, pleaded not guilty Monday to two counts of tax evasion and perjury [JURIST report] at the Bangkok Criminal Court. The three allegedly failed to pay taxes on a 1997 transfer of stock in the Shin Corporation [corporate website, Wikipedia backgrounder], the family business founded by Thaksin in 1983 and formerly known as Shinawatra Computer. The Thaksin family earned an estimated $1.9 billion dollars tax-free and two of Thaksin's children owe the government $789 million in back taxes. If convicted, the defendants could face up to seven years in prison and fines up to $5,700. The events occurred before Thaksin took office in 2001.

The Royal Thai Army [official website] seized power from Thaksin last September in a bloodless military coup [JURIST report] that led to the imposition of martial law [JURIST news archive]. Since then, the new Thai government has struggled to find evidence [JURIST report] of Thaksin's alleged corruption prior to the coup. In February, the Assets Examination Committee, charged with investigating allegations of corruption by Thaksin and his family, recommended [JURIST report] that criminal tax evasions charges be brought against the former prime minister's wife, her brother and secretary. AFP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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