hu Sep 6, 2007 5:25PM IST


BANGKOK (Reuters) – Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra did not threaten to sue Swiss banks for freezing his accounts in Switzerland because he does not have any, spokesmen for him said on Thursday.

Thaksin had been misquoted and his comments taken out of context by Swiss newspaper Mittelland Zeitung, they said.

“What he meant was his bank accounts in Thailand, not in Switzerland. The newspaper must have misreported what he said,” Thaksin’s Bangkok-based lawyer Noppadon Pattama told Reuters.

The paper quoted Thaksin in extracts from an interview scheduled for publication on Sept. 16 that Swiss banks had frozen some of his money and that he would be suing them “because my money is clean”.

“Good old bank secrecy is no more. Absolute discretion is a thing of the past,” he said.

London-based Thaksin spokesman Tim Bell said the comments had been in answer only to a question about his thoughts on the state of Swiss banking.

“He doesn’t have any Swiss bank accounts and therefore he doesn’t have any that can be frozen,” Bell said.

Graft investigators have frozen $1.5 billion in Thaksin’s bank accounts in Thailand and have issued arrest warrants for “official misconduct” in a Bangkok land deal and in connection with a share deal.

Thaksin, a former policeman who became one of Thailand’s richest men, is suing the Assets Examination Committee set up after last year’s coup, demanding compensation for damage caused by the freezing of his assets.

The Swiss embassy in Bangkok said no financial crime treaties existed between the two countries, making it very hard for Thai authorities to make any formal request to freeze assets.

Furthermore, Swiss authorities would never contemplate action until solid evidence had come to light against Thaksin and he had been found guilty, embassy official Jacques Lauer said.

Justifying its September coup, Thailand’s military accused Thaksin of presiding over rampant corruption, abuse of power and showing disrespect to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thaksin defended himself and his family against allegations of corruption. “Neither my family nor I has done anything illegal”.