LONDON: Funds being used by the ousted Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra to buy Manchester City are clean, according to the man who is brokering the deal.
Thai Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn had claimed on Sunday that Thai officials are set to investigate the source of Thaksin’s funds if he succeeds in buying the English Premiership club.
Chalongphob told journalists on the sidelines of an East Asian economic forum in Singapore that Thaksin, who already faces corruption charges in Bangkok, had declared no overseas assets when he was in power.
However Keith Harris, executive chairman of Seymour Pierce Investment Bank and the man who is brokering the deal, told BBC Five Live’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday: “The money to buy Man City is clean. It has been legitimately and transparently transferred to the UK.”
Thaksin lodged a formal offer for City on June 21, but back in Thailand he is facing corruption charges over a property deal and has had US$830mil of his assets frozen.
Chalongphob said the funding for the US$162.6mil bid for City was a “mystery” to Thai authorities.
“I’m sure that the Assets Examination Committee will look at the source of his funds and will try to see whether they are legal funds that were taken out, or other means ...” said the Thai minister.
He said “it’s difficult to trace all these movements” of funds by the former leader, a self-made billionaire who currently lives in London after being ousted by a military coup last September.
A powerful anti-graft panel has frozen US$1.52bil of domestic funds belonging to Thaksin and his family as part of investigations.
Chalongphob repeatedly maintained on Sunday that the military-backed government does not interfere in the judicial system and said Thaksin would receive protection if he returned to face charges in Bangkok.
If Thaksin is found guilty on criminal charges, he could be extradited to Thailand on the basis of bilateral agreements with some countries, Chalongphob added.
Although Thaksin has won over the board, he must still gain the backing of other shareholders and pass a standard “fit and proper person” test. This is carried out by the Premier League, which runs the Premiership. – AFP