[JURIST] Thai police Tuesday charged former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] with concealing assets and illegally holding stock in publicly listed companies, as interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont [official profile; BBC profile] repeated his previous guarantee for Thaksin's personal safety [JURIST report]. Department of Special Investigations (DSI) Director General Sunai Manomaiudom ordered Thaksin to return to Thailand to face charges and said that the government had strong evidence that Thaksin and his wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, secretly held stock in the SC Assets Corp PCL [Wright Investors profile], a Shinawatra family-owned real estate development company. Thai law prohibits cabinet ministers from holding stock in publicly traded companies and requires them to disclose their assets. The DSI will issue an arrest warrant for Thaksin and Potjaman if they do not voluntarily return to face charges before June 29. If convicted, Thaksin and Potjaman will face no more than five years in prison and could face a maximum fine of $112 million, double the value of the alleged hidden stock holdings.
Last Tuesday, Chulanont invited Thaksin to return to Thailand to challenge allegations made against him and the recent seizure of $1.5 billion in assets [JURIST reports] amassed from the sale of the telecommunication company Thaksin founded in the 1980s. Thaksin, who has been in exile since a September 2006 military coup [JURIST report], had previously been warned to stay out of Thailand until a December general election. AP has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.