Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is expected to be arrested upon his return as he ends almost two decades of self-imposed exile, waves at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok. (Reuters)

Thailand’s billionaire ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra freed on parole after 6 months

Thailand's billionaire former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was released from detention. He is the founder of the Thai Rak Thai populist political juggernaut that won most seats in five of the past six parliamentary elections.

Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s billionaire ex-PM, released from detention after 16 years in exile.

Despite being in exile, Thaksin remained politically active, with his party leading the current Thai government.

Thaksin was released on parole in February after serving six months of a commuted one-year jail term.

Thailand’s billionaire former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was released from detention on Sunday, enjoying freedom in his country for the first time since fleeing into exile nearly 16 years ago to avoid jail.

Below are facts about the 74-year-old tycoon who has dominated Thai politics for more than two decades.

EARLY LIFE AND BUSINESS EMPIRE

Born in Chiang Mai in 1949, Thaksin is the great-grandson of Chinese migrants. He earned a masters in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University, and worked at a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. He later joined Thailand’s police and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

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