BANGKOK: Thailand's ousted and exiled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ordered on Tuesday to appear before police in Bangkok next week to face corruption charges.
Thaksin and his wife Pojaman, who are both out of the country, will be charged with making fraudulent filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission over the 2003 listing of a property company owned by his family, police said.
They will also be charged with failing to inform the Stock Exchange of Thailand about later transactions involving the company, SC Asset, which was part of Thaksin's Shin Corp telecom empire, police added.
Thaksin and Pojaman were both ordered to appear before police between June 26 and 29 to hear the charges, said Sunai Manomai-udom, head of the Department of Special Investigations.
"If they intentionally fail to appear, we must issue an arrest warrant," Sunai told reporters.
Thaksin's lawyer, Noppadon Pattama, said he was studying the latest charges to see if he could represent his client before the police.
Sunai said the fraudulent filings in 2003 covered up the fact that Thaksin and his family held a controlling stake in the company.
If convicted, Thaksin and his wife could each face five years in prison and fined at least 500,000 baht (15,000 dollars), Sunai added.
Thaksin was in New York when the military toppled his government in September. He has remained in exile since then, staying mainly in London.
His wife has travelled in and out of Thailand, but she missed an appearance before anti-corruption authorities on Tuesday, with her lawyer saying she was hospitalised in Singapore.
Pojaman was due to testify before the Assets Examination Committee (AEC) over the family's controversial sale of Shin Corp, which earned them 1.9 billion dollars in a tax-free deal in early 2006.
The sale of Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings sparked street protests and eventually led to Thaksin's overthrow in a coup last September.
"She claimed through a lawyer that she was sick in Singapore," said AEC spokesman Sak Korsaengrung. She was reportedly suffering from headaches and heart problems.
Sak said Pojaman was seeking to delay the hearing until July 19 – a request the AEC would discuss once they receive an official medical certificate.
Pojaman has already been charged with tax evasion stemming from a 1997 share deal. She has pleaded not guilty and a court is currently hearing the case.
Her and her husband are also facing corruption charges linked to a controversial land purchase, while the AEC last week froze 1.52 billion dollars in assets held by Thaksin and his family.
The military government have cited corruption and abuse of power as key reasons for Thaksin's ouster, and are under pressure to pin down the billionaire businessman on graft charges.
In addition to the legal challenges to Thaksin's business empire, a military-appointed court last month dissolved his political party and barred him and 110 other top party members from running for office for five years.