A former adviser to a Thai bank whose failure helped spark the 1997 Asian financial meltdown was formally charged Monday in connection with embezzling almost $50 million.
The Thai attorney-general's office announced it had charged Rakesh Saxena with violating four securities law statutes by facilitating a bad 1.66 billion baht loan in 1995.
Saxena, 57, was sent back to Thailand last month from Canada after one of the longest extradition battles in Canadian history. He was a financial adviser to the Bangkok Bank of Commerce, which made millions of dollars of fraudulent loans to cronies of the management.
Each count on which Saxena is charged carries a penalty of 5-10 years' imprisonment and a fine of 500,000-1 million baht ($15,000-30,000). He will make his first court appearance Tuesday to acknowledge the charges.
The bank's failure exposed the weaknesses of the Thai financial system, which had expanded meteorically with little oversight during Thailand's boom years, and helped trigger the devastating 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Other parties in the scandal have already been tried and convicted, the most notable being the bank's president, Krirkkiat Jalichandra, who was fined 2.3 billion baht ($69 million) and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Saxena has denied any wrongdoing. A colorful wheeler-dealer who pioneered the aggressive use of mergers and acquisitions in Thailand, he counted among his associates Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who was involved in some of his Thai business deals.
Thai authorities originally charged Saxena in 1996. But he fled Thailand, and was arrested later that year in the British Columbia ski resort town of Whistler. He fought tenaciously against extradition, claiming he would be in danger if returned to Thailand because he could expose the wrongdoing of influential people.
Those who received suspicious loans include several still-prominent politicians.