Thai court jails banker Rakesh Saxena over 1990s crisis-era fraud


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The Independent Online

A Thai court jailed an Indian financier for 10 years today for massive embezzlement that helped bankrupt a Thai bank in the mid-1990s and spark a crisis in the financial sector that spread through Asia in 1997.

Rakesh Saxena, 59, was found guilty on five counts of securities fraud between 1992 and 1995, having siphoned off tens of millions of dollars from the now defunct Bangkok Bank of Commerce, where he was employed as an adviser.

The scandal that engulfed Bangkok Bank of Commerce caused a run on bank deposits and led to the bank's collapse, contributing to the devaluation of the baht and the regional crisis. Saxena was arrested in 1996 but was extradited from Canada only in 2009.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court heard how Saxena had set up 60 businesses in Thailand and used them to secure loans from the bank to cover debts and running costs, but instead channelled the money into personal accounts, mostly in Switzerland.

"The defendant clearly demonstrated his intention to take funds from the damaged party to invest for his own personal use, depositing the funds into several overseas accounts," the judge said in reading the verdict.

Estimates of the money he stole from the bank vary from $60 million (£38.9 million) to $82 million. The court did not give a total.

Saxena, wearing orange prison fatigues and in a wheelchair, appeared frail and confused as the sentence was passed. He was also ordered to pay 1.13 billion baht (£23.2 million) in damages and a 1 million baht fine.