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City fear for takeover after Thaksin's Thai assets frozen|
Tuesday June 12, 2007
Manchester City were plunged into a state of alarm last night after a committee investigating corruption in the former Thai government of Thaksin Shinawatra ordered his assets be frozen. The announcement has led to speculation it may damage Thaksin's takeover bid and the club's lawyers have asked for written assurances that he still has the money to go ahead with the £90m deal.
Representatives for the deposed Thai prime minister insisted the decision of the specially convened Assets Examination Committee (AEC) would not have implications for City and that they were still "relaxed" about the deal going through, possibly within the next week.
However, City's hierarchy have been dismayed to learn Thaksin and his wife, Pojaman, will not be able to access bank accounts and financial assets totalling at least £1.4bn. The club want confirmation that Thaksin still has the funds available to go ahead with his takeover before they meet for more talks.
Thaksin was ousted as prime minister in a bloodless coup last year after public demonstrations accusing him of corruption and abuse of power. The AEC stated that if he were found to have made money illegally his assets would be seized.
Thaksin has 60 days to appeal and his lawyer, Noppadol Pattama, said the former leader felt "unfairly and illegally treated" and intended to bring his own action against the AEC to "fight and defend his innocence and claim compensation for loss of opportunity". Noppadol said the AEC's actions were "just another political decision to persecute" his client.
City's chief executive, Alistair Mackintosh, has meanwhile begun his own search for a manager. The decision was previously left to Thaksin's representatives and, to the surprise of City's board, Claudio Ranieri was their first choice. That was scuppered when Juventus enticed Ranieri and Mackintosh's concern is the matter cannot drag on much longer, with pre-season training three weeks away.
The latest damage to Thaksin's reputation does not appear to have put off City from dealing with him. There was another insight into his former rule when his military-appointed successor, Surayud Chulanont, claimed that during Thaksin's administration "the rule of law came under fierce attack from the powerful, the rich and their cronies" and "corruption washed through our government."