The nine judges unanimously ruled that Surapong was guilty of dereliction of duty by authorising the amendment of a concession to allow Shin Corp to reduce its minimum shareholding in its satellite affiliate Shin Satellite, now renamed Thaicom, from at least 51% to 40%.
The approval by the former information and communication technology minister was made on grounds it would help the firm be more competitive and expand business. However, the court found that it was against the principle of the constitution on protecting the telecom business from foreign dominance.
Surapong was immediately accompanied by Corrections Department officials to the Bangkok Remand Prison after the ruling.
The case also involved two other defendants: former permanent secretary for ICT Kraisorn Pornsuthi and former director of the Space Affairs Bureau Thailand Chaiyan Puengkiatpairote.
The court also found them guilty and sentenced them to one year each before reducing the sentence to a five-year suspended jail term and fined them B20,000 each because they acted under the orders of the former minister.
The case was filed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission who accused the three of malfeasance. It took place in 2004 when Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister.
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