Thailand to seize assets of Thaksin's children

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BANGKOK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Thailand is hunting the assets of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's children after they failed to pay 355 million dollar in taxes and fines relating to the sale of the family empire, a tax official said today.

The Revenue Department has sent letters to banks and financial firms searching for assets belonging to Thaksin's son and daughter, Phantongtae and Pinthongta, said Sanit Rangnoy, the head of the department.

''We expect to be able to seize those assets from those financial institutions from early December,'' Sanit told Reuters.

The seizure began after the department's appeal panel upheld a ruling by an anti-corruption body set up by the military which ousted Thaksin in a bloodless coup last year.

The anti-graft committee ruled that Thaksin's children broke tax laws in the 3.8 billion dollar sale of telecommunications conglomerate Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek.

The deadline for the 12 billion baht back tax and fine payments had passed, allowing tax officials to start the seizure, Sanit said.

The Shinawatra children, both directors of Manchester City football club which their father bought in July, could appeal against the Revenue Department's seizure order through the Tax Court, revenue officials said. There was no word from them.

The tax-free Shin sale outraged Thailand's urban middle-class voters who staged Bangkok street demonstrations, leading to the overthrow of Thaksin, winner of two landslide election victories.

Phantongtae and Pinthongta, both in their 20s, acquired the Shin shares through an offshore company which Thaksin founded at 1 baht each.

They then sold 329 million shares in Shin, which has interests in telecommunications, satellites and television, to Temasek at 49.25 baht each.

Thaksin, who lives in exile in London, always insisted the Shin sale satisfied all the rules in Thailand, where share sales carried out through the stock market are not taxed.

REUTERS SK VC1258

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