Pheu Thai goad Prawit over taxes, B1mln cheque

Gen Prawit Wongsuwon: Promises not to sue for defamation

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has denied claims of tax evasion regarding a cheque for 1 million baht he received in 2008.

He was responding to a Pheu Thai Party request that the Revenue Department look into allegations of unpaid taxes.

Gen Prawit said he was prepared to be investigated if necessary. "I insist I have not [dishonestly] received any money from anyone," he said.

The party has questioned whether he included the cheque when he declared his assets to the state in 2008.

Gen Prawit said he received the cheque that year, before he became defence minister. The deputy premier said he would not sue the party for defamation but would like the matter to be investigated to prove his innocence.

Ruangkrai Leekijwattana, Pheu Thai's legal expert, petitioned the department Monday to launch an investigation into whether Gen Prawit had specified the 1 million baht in his taxable income in 2008.

According to Mr Ruangkrai, since Gen Prawit declared upon his appointment as defence minister on Dec 22, 2008 under the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration that he had filed the cheque as another source of income, it must be declared and taxed. He was making the call in the interest of fairness.

"Since the government is using the [so-called] 'miracle of tax' measure to investigate the [alleged tax evasion] case involving the Shin Corp shares of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, other politicians should also be subject to similar probes," he said.

He was referring to a recent comment by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam that the government has found a new legal way to collect taxes from Thaksin that should "be worth a try".

Mr Ruangkrai said the cheque was dated Dec 18, 2008 and Gen Prawit should have cashed it and included it in his taxable income for his tax filing that year. If it was not cashed, it would not be considered taxable income and the department should notify the National Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation as to how the cheque came to be stated in Gen Prawit's asset declaration, he said.

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