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Billionaire leader of Thai anti-junta party faces fresh legal woes

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BANGKOK: The billionaire leader of an upstart anti-junta party that scooped up millions of votes in Thailand's disputed elections last month faced fresh legal woes after the authorities accused him of illegally holding shares while running for office.

The elections remain in dispute after a political party backed by the junta that has ruled Thailand since 2014 and its main rival both claimed victory.

The youth-oriented Future Forward Party meanwhile, became the third most popular party in the country, garnering six million votes in the March 24 elections thanks to the telegenic appeal of its billionaire leader, Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

But legal assaults have trailed his success at the ballot box and could affect final results expected next month, with the Election Commission announcing a fresh probe into the party chief for allegedly holding shares in a media company during the campaign.

The punishment could be a disqualification for Mr Thanathorn and members of his party, commission secretary-general Jarungwit Pumma told AFP yesterday.

"The decision is still not clear at the moment," he added.

Mr Thanathorn, who is travelling in Europe, said on Twitter that the case was "political sabotage" and he would return soon.

His deputy, Mr Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, told reporters on Monday that the shares in V-Luck Media had been legally transferred in January before Mr Thanathorn's run.

"This issue is not a problem whatsoever," he said. - AFP