HONG KONG, Jan 10 — Fugitive former Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register a company in Hong Kong, records show, lending weight to reports she used the neighbouring kingdom to make her dramatic escape from her homeland.
The former prime minister was also recently named chair of a Chinese port operator in Guangdong province, mainland corporate filings seen by AFP reveal, as her family’s political dynasty grow their business presence in southern China.
Yingluck and her billionaire brother Thaksin Shinawatra were both elected prime minister but were toppled in coups — Thaksin in 2006 and Yingluck in 2014.
Although they live in self-exile, the duo retain significant support in rural and poorer parts of Thailand, a politically troubled kingdom which is due to go to the polls later this year after five years of military rule.
Yingluck went on the run in August 2017 during a graft case where she was convicted of running a rice subsidy scheme that cost Thailand billions of dollars. She and her supporters say the case was politically motivated.
Senior junta officials said Yingluck skipped bail and fled the country via Cambodia, an allegation the government in Phnom Penh has always denied.
But publicly searchable corporate filings in Hong Kong show Yingluck holds a Cambodian passport, using it to register as director of a company called “PT Corporation Company Limited” on August 24, 2018.
Cambodian authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Separate mainland records show Yingluck was appointed chairwoman of Shantou International Container Terminals Ltd, in Guangdong, on December 12.
The company was listed as 70 per cent owned by a subsidiary of the family of Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man.
But a spokesperson for parent company CK Hutchison told AFP the subsidiary had recently divested “to a Singaporean investor who has subsequently brought in (an)other investor”.
Hong Kong’s land registry shows the residential address given for Yingluck’s PT Corporation — a mansion in Hong Kong’s exclusive Peak district — is owned by Chen Huaidan, a wealthy Chinese-Singaporean businesswoman.
Chen is also listed as a director of Shantou International Container Terminals.
Like many of Thailand’s ultra-wealthy, the Shinawatra family trace their lineage to Guangdong and regularly make trips to their ancestral village there, as well as the neighbouring international financial hub Hong Kong.
The South China Morning Post reported that Thaksin and Yingluck visited their village of Taxia over the weekend, an event that drew crowds of locals but was largely scrubbed by Chinese censors.
Thaksin, who is wanted in Thailand for a separate graft conviction he says was politically motivated, has a company registered in Hong Kong with a Montenegro passport. He divides most of his time between Dubai and London. — AFP