Sondhi in jail pending bail request

Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of the Manager Media Group, and two female aides will spend time in prison pending consideration of their bail applications by the Supreme Court, expected to be announced late next week.

Mr Sondhi was taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison late in the afternoon after the Appeals Court said it would forward bail applications of Mr Sondhi and two former Manager directors — Saowalak Thiranujanyong and Yupin Chantana — to the upper court for approval on Friday. Reports said Sondhi waved and smiled to his supporters, saying: “I’m fine” before being led to a van.  

Bail consideration normally takes three to five days. But since the court will receive the requests on the last day of the week, which is followed by the four-day Mother's Day weekend, it is expected to announce next Thursday or Friday whether it will accept the bail requests. The two women were sent to the central women's correctional facility in Bang Kehn district. 

The bail applications submitted by Sondhi, Saowalak and Yupin offered a 10 million baht surety each. 

The leader of the now-defunct People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) will spend one night in the Bangkok Remand Prison, prison commander Sorasit Jongchareon said, and he will later be taken to Klong Prem Central Prison. 

Mr Sorasit said the Klong Prem facility has red-shirt inmates but security measures are in place to prevent a confrontation between Sondhi and his political rivals.

Sondhi and three Manager directors were indicted in the Criminal Court in October 2000 in a case filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). They were accused of falsifying loan guarantee documents to secure 1.08 billion baht from Krung Thai Bank without seeking approval from the company's board.

The loan was arranged by The M Group, a private company controlled by Sondhi and a major shareholder in the listed Manager Media Group.

The Manager Media Group was listed as a guarantor of the loan by Krung Thai to The M Group, with  Sondhi, Saowalak, Yupin and Suradet Mukyangkoon, who did not appeal his conviction, signing the guarantee document.

The SEC said the Manager board was unaware of the transaction, which was also not disclosed in the listed company's financial statements. The M Group later defaulted on the Krung Thai Bank loan, resulting in Manager becoming liable for repayment and incurring damage totalling 259 million baht as a result, according to the SEC.

The four also falsified documents to mislead Krung Thai Bank into thinking that the guarantee by Manager was properly authorised by the company's board, and later colluded to prevent disclosure of the guarantee by the listed company to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

On Sept 17, 2012 the Criminal Court found them guilty and sentenced Sondhi and Saowalak to a total of 85 years in prison, Suradet to five years in jail, and Yupin to 65 years in jail.

Because of their confessions, the jail terms were halved to 42 years and six months for Sondhi and Saowalak, two years and six months for Suradet, and 32 years and six months for Yupin.

The law limits prison terms for securities-related offences to 20 years.

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