Appeals Court sentences Benja Louischaroen to 3 years in jail

The Appeals Court today (Oct 19) upheld a three-year imprisonment sentence on former deputy finance minister Benja Louischaroen for helping Thaksin Shinawatra’s children to evade tax.

Benja is among four revenue officials sentenced by the Criminal Court to three years in prison for helping former prime minister Thaksin’s children evade tax on the 2006 Shin Corp share purchase.

Ms Pranee Vejpruekpitak, Mrs Potjaman na Pombejra’s secretary, was given two years in prison by the first court for supporting role.

But all appealed for mercy from the Appeals Court to reduce the sentences.

At today’s hearing of their appeals for lighter sentence, the Appeals Court said since the four officials didn’t regard damages that could incur on the trustworthy image of their organisation, the Revenue Department, their behaviours were therefore very serious and that they didn’t deserve to get lighter sentence.

The court then upheld the sentences earlier handed down by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

Benja was accused of making a faulty ruling that saved Thaksin’s daughter Pinthongta and son Panthongtae billions of baht in capital gains taxes when they sold Shin Corp shares.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) filed the lawsuit against the five on December 3, 2015, accusing the four revenue officials of helping siblings Panthongtae and Pinthongta avoid personal income tax.

The officials responded to a tax question on the share sale from Pranee that the siblings did not have to be taxed.

Pranee was a former secretary to Thaksin’s ex-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra. She was given two years for supporting the malfeasance case.

The case related to each of the siblings’ purchase of 164,600,000 Shin Corp shares at a par price of one baht in 2006 when the share price was 49.25 baht.

According to the NACC, the purchase was considered as earned income and Thaksin’s children had to pay tax based on the share-price earnings gap of 7.94 billion baht each, or 15.88 billion baht in total for their gain.

The department’s tax panel earlier said such earnings must be included in their tax in line with Section 39 of the Revenue Code, the court was told.

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