Son of former Thai PM indicted on money laundering charge

Phantongtae Shinawatra, son of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, arrives at prosecutor's office Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Phantongtae has been indicted Wednesday for a money laundering charge, as authorities pile pressure on the former premier’s political allies. (AP Photo)

BANGKOK — The son of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was indicted Wednesday on charges of money laundering, as pressure mounts on the ousted leader's political allies.

Panthongtae Shinawatra was arraigned by prosecutors for allegedly laundering 10 million baht ($303,500) linked to an earlier corruption case involving Krungthai Bank.

In August 2015, executives of the bank were sentenced to 18 years in prison for extending illegal loans. Panthongtae is accused of laundering some of that money, although he has said he returned the money he received.

Panthongtae appeared Wednesday at the attorney general's office and later at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

The court granted him bail of 1 million baht ($30,340) and set the date of the next hearing for Nov. 5.

For over a decade, Thaksin Shinawatra and his political parties have represented opposition to Thailand's traditional establishment supported by the military. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup amid accusations of corruption and alleged disrespect for the monarchy, which he has denied. He fled overseas to avoid a corruption conviction.

Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, led a government that was ousted in a 2014 coup. A military junta has held a tight grip on power since then. It has designed complex new electoral rules that it says will make politics more open and inclusive, but critics say are designed to stop the Thaksin-backed Pheu Thai party from winning a parliamentary majority in the next elections, tentatively set for next February.

Political parties backed by the Shinawatra family, which have undergone many name changes, have won every national election since 2001.

Thailand's Election Commission said this week that it is probing Pheu Thai and might seek to disband it.

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