During 3 � 7 October 2016, delegation from Thailand, led by Mr. Vera Urairat, Deputy Secretary-General of the National Security Council, H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarintr, Director General of the Department of International Organisations, Ministry of Foreign Affair, and joined by representatives from the Ministry of Interior and the Royal Thai Armed Forces, attended the 67th Session of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)' Executive Committee, at Palais de Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

During the meeting, Thailand shared its vision towards addressing the current global crisis of displacement and called for the need for greater international cooperation in addressing the crisis, based on principles of equitable burden-sharing, while also stressed that current wave of mass migration of refugees has now reached the highest point since the end of the Second World War. Also, considering the fact that 85 per cent of the refugees are hosted by developing countries, the international community must therefore grant more support to host countries to ensure adequate and appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance to these people.

To achieve the above cause, Thailand reiterated the need to address root causes, including ending conflicts, through promotion of development alongside humanitarian aid, and called for enhanced coordination amongst countries of origin, transit, and destination, in order to response to emergency situations more promptly and systematically, and to prevent the loss of lives.

At the Sessions, Thailand also shared significant positive development of the preparation with Myanmar on voluntary return of the displaced persons from Myanmar, with the pilot group comprising 96 persons scheduled to depart in the very near future; the development of a screening process to identify those who truly need protection from those who migrate for other reasons; and measures to end statelessness through the granting of citizenship to those who are eligible, and provision of basic services, especially education and medical services, to the stateless population. Moreover, Thailand also shared her experience in law enforcement operations and cooperation at the regional level and beyond to combat transnational trafficking and smuggling networks that was a major contributing factor to the decrease of irregular movements in the Indian Ocean by 95 per cent.

In response to Thailand's contribution, Mr. Filippo Grandi, the High Commissioner for Refugees commended and thanked Thailand for its longstanding generosity as a host country of the displaced, and commended the progress on the voluntary return of displaced persons from Myanmar. He also pointed out that the UNHCR looked forward to cooperating with Thailand at the regional level on combating and preventing trafficking and smuggling of persons.

Additionally, Mr. Volker Turk, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees (International Protection) commended Thailand for including the principle of Non-refoulement in its new draft national legislation, and looked forward to working with Thailand in developing the screening mechanism. He also commended Thailand's measures to end and prevent statelessness, as well as its active role in UNHCR's #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness.

Alongside attending the UNHCR's session, Thailand, in cooperation with Australia, Finland, UNHCR, Handicap International and International Disability Alliance, also co-organized a side event on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the context of displacement, which is in line with Thailand's policy on persons with disabilities.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand

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Once known as a “financial wizard”, Indian-born Rakesh Saxena now faces decades in jail for a Thai banking scandal that triggered the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Following a legal battle that dragged on for 26 years, the Supreme Court on September 12 finally sentenced Saxena to 335 years in jail over three lawsuits stemming from the Bangkok Bank of Commerce (BBC) embezzlement scandal. Although the jail sentence of over three centuries was upheld, the 70-year-old will serve only 20 years behind bars, the maximum term under the Thai Penal Code. Working his way up the ladder From 1974 to 1985, Saxena worked as a foreign exchange dealer and money market broker in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and London. He later moved to Thailand to work as a newspaper financial columnist and consultant to financial institutions. In 1989, while living in Bangkok, he met and befriended Krirkkiat Jalichandra, who had just been appointed as the BBC’s senior vice-president. In 1992, Saxena became a personal advisor to Krirkkiat, who had since been promoted to BBC president. The bank at that time was owned by the family of Krirkkiat’s mother. In his book “BBC Truth”, Krirkkiat wrote that his maternal grandfather, the late former prime minister MR Kukrit Pramoj, had told him: “You have to help with Granddad’s work at the bank.” Krirkkiat had earlier worked at the Bank of Thailand for over a decade. How the scandal unfolded Between 1993 and 1994, the bank spent over 36 billion baht on business takeovers and leveraged buyouts linked with Saxena. The BBC also granted loans with insufficient or overpriced collateral to companies controlled by Saxena, senior bank executives including Krirkkiat, and their associates – many of whom were politicians. The BBC scandal was linked to a clique of young politicians known as the “Group of 16”, many of whom went on to become political heavyweights. Regulators estimated the bank’s bad loans at over 50 billion baht or roughly 40 percent of its assets. Saxena claimed years later that in 1995, BBC officials concealed the number of non-performing loans by lending money to bank-owned shell companies so they could repay debts owed by other borrowers. After the scheme was uncovered, the central bank in February 1996 ordered Krirkkiat to not renew Saxena’s consulting contract. A bank’s collapse Just a month later, the Bank of Thailand took control of the BBC. During a censure debate in early May 1996, opposition MPs from the Democrat Party accused unnamed government politicians of colluding with Saxena and Krirkkiat to “embezzle at least 50 billion baht from the bank’s deposits”. The accusation, coupled with reports of the bank’s deteriorating condition, led to a run on BBC deposits of more than 30 billion baht. That prompted a takeover by the Finance Ministry, which allowed the bank to go bust in August 1998 after discovering an unmanageable level of insolvency. Krirkkiat, Saxena and several others faced 17 court cases on charges of embezzlement and fraud causing damage of over 50 billion baht. The disgraced BBC president was sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined 3.1 billion baht. Krirkkiat died in October 2012 while still serving his prison sentence. Fallout for the economy The BBC scandal led to the closure of a Thai bank that had been operating for over 50 years. Its collapse undermined confidence in the Thai financial system, leading to a domino effect that toppled 56 financial institutions and saw many Thai commercial banks taken over by foreign investors. In July 1997, the Thai government gave in to speculative pressure against the baht and devalued the currency. The move forced neighboring countries to follow suit with their currencies, triggering a financial crisis that swept across Asia. Long legal battle In June 1996, Saxena was in Canada when Thai authorities charged him and others in connection with the BBC scandal. He was arrested a month later but resisted extradition from Canada, claiming he would be killed if he was sent back to Thailand. The extradition battle began in June 1997. More than a decade later, in October 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Saxena and he was turned over to Thai authorities. In Thailand, Saxena waged a three-decade legal battle that came to an end this month with a final Supreme Court ruling that sealed his fate. Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service