BANGKOK: The Supreme Court has upheld lower court rulings against financier Rakesh Saxena, sentencing him to 335 years in prison in three lawsuits in connection with the Bangkok Bank of Commerce (BBC) embezzlement scandal.
Rakesh Saxena arrives at the Bangkok South Criminal Court on June 9, 2021. The court sentenced him to 10 years in prison for embezzlement at that time. Photo: Somchai Poomlard
Saxena had been fighting his cases since he was indicted by prosecutors 26 years ago, reports the Bangkok Post.
The ruling, read out yesterday (Sept 12) by the Bangkok South Criminal Court, brought an end to three cases of fraud and embezzlement that were believed to have contributed to the collapse of the bank and the start of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Saxena, 70, was accused of embezzlement during his time as a BBC treasury adviser and is widely reputed to have been involved in dozens of high-risk ventures and deals over the course of three decades.
Saxena played a key role in running the BBC business from 1993 to 1995, especially in the lending of funds to investors. The bank was shut down after incurring huge losses.
In the ruling, Saxena was found guilty of violating the Securities and Exchange Commission Act in three cases.
According to the prosecution’s lawsuits, the offences were committed during 1994-1996 when the defendant served as an adviser to the president of the now-defunct BBC, Krirkkiat Jalichandra, who is now dead.
Saxena was accused of aiding Krirkkiat and others in authorising loans worth more than B30 million to Somprasong Intercommunication Co and nine other firms without proper examination of the firms’ ability to repay.
The loan authorisation was not approved by the bank’s executive committee and thus was in violation of Bank of Thailand rules governing requests for loans of more than B30mn. Moreover, the defendant and his alleged accomplices also colluded to embezzle the money.
The prosecution asked the court to punish the defendant under the Securities and Exchange Commission Act and order him to return the funds – worth B2.5 billion – to the bank.
The Criminal Court found Saxena guilty of violating Sections 307, 308, 311 and 315 of the Stock Exchange of Thailand Act and Section 83 of the Criminal Code and handed down a 335-year prison term.
However, under the law, the defendant would serve a maximum of 20 years.
The Criminal Court also imposed a fine of B33mn and ordered him to return B2.5bn to the bank.
Saxena appealed the ruling, but the Appeal Court stood by the lower court’s decision. He challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said it examined the evidence submitted by the prosecution and found without a doubt that the defendant committed the offences as charged.
The Supreme Court stood by the lower court’s decision.
Saxena served as an adviser to the BBC from 1992 and was charged with embezzlement worth US$75 million in 1996 following the collapse of the bank in 1995. A warrant for his arrest was issued in June 1996.
He fled to Canada where he was living as a fugitive after the scandal emerged, and was arrested there in July 1996. After a lengthy extradition battle, a Canadian court rejected his objection to the extradition in November 2008 and he was eventually extradited to stand trial in Thailand.
In June 2012, the Bangkok South Criminal Court sentenced him to ten years in prison, ordered him to pay a fine of B1mn and return B1.13bn to the bank in connection with illicit loans granted to City Trading Corp totalling B1.6bn.
As for Krirkkiat, he was declared bankrupt in 2009 and indicted for fraud and embezzlement worth B50bn. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He died of cancer in October 2012.