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The BBC's Simon Ingram in Bangkok
"He had protested that the allegations against him were false"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 11:46 GMT
Thai party chief faces political ban
Thaksin Shinawatra on the campaign trail in Bangkok
Thaksin: Destined for the top, but for how long?
Thailand's anti-corruption body has ruled that the man tipped to become the next prime minister concealed his wealth in asset declarations in the 1990s.

Billionaire businessman Thaksin Shinawatra may face a five-year disqualification from politics - but the ban is not likely to be imposed until after the 6 January general election.

He has protested his innocence, claiming that any inaccuracies in the declarations were due to an oversight.

Thaksin deliberately submitted his asset and debt statements with false information

NCCC chairman Ophars Arunin
The National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) has issued an indictment, but this must be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

Mr Thaksin's main rival , Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by a similar investigation into his asset declarations.

Poll lead

"Thaksin deliberately submitted his asset and debt statements with false information or concealed some information," NCCC chairman Ophars Arunin said in a statement.

Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin claims he has the answers to Thailand's economic woes
The 51-year-old telecoms tycoon is accused of failing to declare share transactions and stakes in 17 companies during the mid-1990s, thereby concealing his wealth when he was a cabinet minister.

Opinion polls show that his fledgling party - Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) - has a strong lead over Mr Chuan's Democrat Party

Last week Mr Thaksin, a telecoms tycoon, accused the Democrat Party of engineering his downfall, after reports of the forthcoming NCCC decision began to circulate.

"In politics there is a belief that you will gain from attacking other people, and I'm being attacked now," he said.

"There are irregularities in the NCCC decision but we will have to wait and see. The Democrats knows that there is only one way to beat Thai Rak Thai and that's to accuse us of foul play."

Ratification struggle ahead

Prime Minister Chaun Leekpai
Chuan was cleared by the committee
BBC south-east Asia correspondent Simon Ingram says the Constitutional Court is unlikely to consider the case before the election, opening up the possibility that Mr Thaksin could be elected, then disqualified from office within days.

He says Mr Thaksin is likely to do everything to prevent the court ratifying the NCCC decision.

In testimony to the investigating committee, Mr Thaksin admitted he had failed to declare assets worth $15m - which amount to less than 3% of his huge fortune.

He said he simply "forgot" about the controversial shares, which were placed under the names of household staff, including his driver and maid.

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See also:

08 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai elections' favourite under probe
10 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tight rules for Thai campaign
26 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai party chief in corruption probe
10 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai minister in corruption scandal
15 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Corruption forces new Thai poll
05 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Shadow cast over Thai elections
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