BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in Thailand have escalated their effort to collect taxes they say are due from ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, posting a bill for 17.6 billion baht ($503 million) at the house where he lived before fleeing into exile in 2008 to avoid a prison term for conflict of interest.
The Revenue Department acted Tuesday as part of a plan announced earlier to avoid a March 31 legal deadline on collecting the money. Presenting a formal tax assessment covering Thaksin's sale in 2006 of shares worth 73.3 billion baht ($1.88 billion) in his telecommunications company to a Singapore state holding company is supposed to keep alive the government's claim.
One of Thaksin's lawyers, Noppadon Pattama, said his team will challenge the bill. He contended that under the law in existence at the time of the sale, the shares were exempt from tax.
Thaksin's supporters say the action is politically motivated.
Thaksin was ousted in 2006 after public demonstrations accused him of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last year. His supporters say Thailand's political establishment ousted him because his popularity was a threat to their own influence.
In 2010, the Supreme Court ordered $1.4 billion of his assets seized for concealing his ownership of the family telecommunication group and tailoring government policies for his own financial gain.