Friday, June 15, 2007


Deposed leader denies taking money

BANGKOK — Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has not removed from Thailand any money being sought by authorities investigating him for reputed corruption, his lawyer said yesterday.

A powerful anti-corruption panel on Monday ordered a freeze on about $1.5 billion of assets belonging to Mr. Thaksin and his family.

Most of that money was profits from his family’s sale of Shin Corp, the telecom giant founded by the former prime minister.


Robot receptionists available for hire

TOKYO — Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said yesterday that it had started renting out its “wakamaru” robots to work at the front desk of offices, hospitals and other places in need of the humanoid touch.

The robot, which is 3 feet tall and weighs 60 pounds, is available to rent for a mere $1,000 a day for up to five days.

The bright-yellow robot recognizes about 10,000 words necessary for daily life and can speak basic sentences and move around on its own at half a mile an hour, avoiding any obstacles in its path. It is unlikely to call in sick.


Hun Sen promises to fight graft

TOKYO — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged yesterday to fight corruption to lure more investors from top donor Japan as he tries to wean his government off foreign aid.

Hun Sen, visiting Japan for the 15th time, met with business leaders and signed a bilateral agreement with his counterpart Shinzo Abe on encouraging investment.

Earlier this month, London-based environmental group Global Witness — in a report banned by the Cambodian government — accused the political elite including Hun Sen’s relatives of illegally logging the nation’s forests.


Japan requests removal of exhibits

BEIJING — A call by Japanese lawmakers for China to remove photographs and exhibits about Japan’s wartime invasion showed that Japan lacked the courage to live up to its historical mistakes, China’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

A group of 42 Japanese lawmakers, mainly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, vowed on Wednesday to press China to stop showing “fake or wrongful” photographs, films and exhibits that reflect badly on Japan.


Switzerland returns frozen bribes

BERN — Switzerland on Wednesday returned to Taiwan $34 million out of a total $520 million frozen in Swiss banks following a giant corruption scandal involving the sale of French frigates to Taipei.

The Swiss judge said the money had been repatriated on condition that the “two people implicated get a fair trial.”

Taiwanese authorities estimate they lost $520 million in bribes while negotiating the $2.8 billion purchase of six warships built by France’s Thomson-CSF (now Thales).

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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