TWO FORMER top executives of state-owned Krungthai Bank were each sentenced to 18 years in jail yesterday for approving a questionable loan worth Bt8 billion to a property company.
The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders gave the lengthy imprisonment term to KTB’s former president Viroj Nualkhair and former board chairman Suchai Chaovisit, in addition to 17 others who were also convicted in the case.
Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was the first defendant in this case, was among the 27 people charged. But the court has suspended the case against him because he has fled the country.
The court also ordered Thaksin’s arrest in order for him to stand trial in the case.
The convicts, as officials of the state, were found guilty of colluding to approve the loan dishonestly to subsidiaries of Krisdamahanakorn in 2003, for refinancing and land acquisition. But the loan was used for personal purposes, the court found.
The other defendants convicted in the case include the bank’s credit officers and executives of companies affiliated with Krisdamahanakorn who received loans from KTB. They were sentenced to 12 years each in jail.
The Supreme Court also ordered all the convicts to pay compensation totalling more than Bt10 billion in damages to the bank.
Viroj, aged 68, an eminent merchant banker in his heyday, also served as vice chairman of the troubled Phatra Thanakit. He later became honourary chairman of Phatra Securities.
All 19 people convicted in the case, including Viroj and Suchai, were sent to the Bangkok Remand Prison yesterday.
Prison director Ayut Sinthoppan said some of them were apparently stressed when they were brought to the place after the court’s verdict.
He said all of them would spend their first night in prison at the facility. Then those sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment would be sent to the Klong Prem Central Prison.
The director explained that his prison could hold only convicts with jail terms of no more than 12 years. Sixteen of the convicts in this case would remain incarcerated at the Bangkok Remand Prison, he said.
In 2003, KTB extended loans totalling |Bt9.9 billion during the term of the Thaksin government to Krisda Mahanakorn’s affiliated firms, supposedly to refinance their debts |with financial institutions and to purchase land plots for those affiliates’ real-estate |projects. However, it was found that the money they received was used for personal benefits.
It was also discovered that these companies had earlier been classified by KTB as financially troubled and not worthy of loan extensions.