Third set of charges for Manchester City owner

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The Independent Online

Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra's struggle to clear his name and recover £800m took another turn for the worse yesterday when a court in Bangkok accepted charges in a third criminal case against the former Thai Prime Minister.

Thaksin and dozens of government workers and ministers are accused of abuse of power in a state lottery that lost around £500m from 2003. The telecoms billionaire must now await a court hearing in September which will decree whether he and 46 others involved in alleged tax exemption and misspending irregularities must repay the money.

Thaksin returned to Thailand from his British exile in February, to win back his money and face fraud charges against him. City have always been aware that the unfreezing of his assets was unlikely to take place before the current close-season but Thaksin could not have anticipated that he would have faced a judiciary so determined.

There is a growing consensus that the new cases being brought will, if successful, make it more difficult for him to re-secure the cash. Analysts believe his ally and current prime minister Samak Sundaravej may attempt to change the constitution, established after Thaksin was removed from power, to weaken the power of the judiciary.

Despite the chairman's travails, City seem poised to sign Tal Ben-Haim from Chelsea by the middle of the week. The 26-year-old Israeli international is expected to become the Blues' second signing of the summer – after Brazilian Jo – once personal terms have been thrashed out. It is understood a fee of around £5m has been agreed.

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