- The Washington Times - Monday, June 21, 2010

BANGKOK | Thailand’s military-backed government has frozen the bank accounts of wealthy suspected supporters of protesters for democracy, whose two-month-long encampment in downtown Bangkok ended in a deadly clash with authorities in May.

More than 80 prominent Thais — including politicians and former military officers — were named publicly in a government-issued financial blacklist that noted how much money they had withdrawn from their accounts before and during the protests. Businesses were named, too.

Officials demanded explanations for the transactions, which equate to hundreds of millions of dollars, and said the cash enabled thousands of protesters to survive behind barricades in the heart of Bangkok.

The government froze the accounts amid speculation that the protesters, known as the Red Shirts, are plotting revenge for the military raid that crushed their bamboo barricades and for the 90 people left dead in weeks of clashes between protesters and the army.

“I insist that the government has never intended to persecute anyone,” Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday after freezing the accounts.

“I still believe that there are attempts to financially support [the Red Shirts] by a network of supporters,” he added.

Featured on the blacklist is the former wife of Thaksin Shinawatra, the exiled former prime minister who was toppled in a bloodless coup in 2006 and subsequently convicted in absentia of corruption.

According to the blacklist:

• Pojaman Damapong, Thaksin’s former wife, withdrew 54 million baht ($1.6 million) between September and May.

• Thaksin’s and Mrs. Pojaman’s son, Panthongtae Shinawatra, and their unmarried daughter Pinthongta Shinawatra withdrew a combined total of nearly 11 billion baht ($330 million).

The blacklist notes withdrawals by more than a dozen politicians who are perceived as having supported Thaksin. Among them, the largest appear to have been made by Sudarat Keyuraphan, a former executive of Thaksin’s political party.

The blacklist also identifies seven Red Shirt leaders who deposited large sums of money into their own accounts between September and May, but it says the information about the deposits is “not available.” Three of those Red Shirt leaders were very outspoken during the protests: Veera Musikhapong, Kwanchai Praipana and Weng Tojirakarn.

In addition, the blacklist includes several former police and military officers, as well as 13 companies, such as SC Office Plaza Co. Ltd., OAI Marketing Co. Ltd. and New Oak Co. Ltd.

In publicizing the blacklist, the government revealed no evidence linking any individual’s withdrawals to another person’s deposits and offered no paper trail showing how the withdrawals were used.

The blacklist is the same as an earlier list of people and businesses the government is investigating for links to Red Shirts and terrorists.

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