Fri 15 Jun 2007
Filed under: News,Regional
The Export-Import Bank of Thailand’s multi-billion-baht loan to Burma was not a usual business transaction, former bank president Sataporn Jinachitra said.
Mr. Sataporn said the bank’s four-billion-baht loan represented a conflict of interest, although he denied allegations that the loan scheme was tainted with corruption.
He was speaking after giving testimony on the case before a sub-committee of the Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) yesterday.
He said the approved loan amount was higher than usual and the loan extension entailed high risk.
In light of this, the Exim bank asked the then Thaksin Shinawatra cabinet to guarantee the loan, he said.
Earlier, other witnesses appearing before the sub-committee said the loan was originally set at three billion baht. However, it was later increased to four billion baht.
The four-billion-baht loan was granted to Burma, which allegedly used the money to rent the iPSTAR satellites’ transponder from Shin Satellite, a firm then controlled by the Shinawatra family.
Mr Sataporn said that when the Burmese government was taking out the loan from the Exim bank, it said only that it intended to spend the money on improving the country’s infrastructure. The Burmese government did not say it planned to rent the satellites with the loan, he said.
He said the loan request was examined by the Exim bank, the Finance Ministry, and the Foreign Ministry.
The interest on the loan was low, only 3%, compared to the usual rate of 6-7%, he said. The Burmese government has to pay back the money and interest over 12 years.
Mr. Sataporn said the Exim bank had not been forced to disburse the loan. It was the Thaksin government’s policy to provide financial assistance to Burma, he said.
A source at the ASC said Surakiart Sathirathai, who was foreign minister in the Thaksin government, and Exim bank executives would be treated as witnesses in the case.
Meanwhile, Udom Fuangfung, who heads the ASC’s sub-committee probing the Ratchadaphisek land deal, said the Office of the Attorney-General can issue a warrant ordering the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) and the Prime Minister’s Office to hand in evidence, if the agencies fail to cooperate.
The prosecution would ask for documents related to the case including the FIDF bond issued to Mr Thaksin’s wife, Khunying Potjaman, before considering whether to indict the ousted prime minister and his wife in the 772-million-baht Ratchadaphisek land purchase case.
Mr. Udom, who is also looking into alleged misuse of the proceeds from the two- and three-digit lottery sales, said the sub-committee handling that case is expected to wrap up its inquiry next Thursday before presenting its findings to the ASC on June 25.