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Nalinee Taveesin: new Thai minister, old "crony" of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe

Newly appointed Thai official accused of "secretly supporting … one of Africa's most corrupt regimes"
Nalinee Taveesin_01_19_2012Enlarge
Nalinee Taveesin, named to the Thai premier's office this week, is designated by the U.S. as a crony of Zimbabwe's corrupt leader Robert Mugabe. (Screengrab)

Nalinee "Joy" Taveesin, the polished and prim new minister newly appointed to the Thai premier's cabinet, hardly evokes the image of a "crony" supporting "one of Africa's most corrupt regimes."

But that's how she's described by the U.S. government. The Thai businesswoman is alleged to have "facilitated a number of financial, real estate and gem-related transactions" on behalf of Zimbabwean figure including Grace Mugabe.

You may have heard of her husband. His name is Robert and he's Zimbabwe's terminally corrupt president.

So why did Thailand's government appoint this well-to-do Harvard graduate to the premier's cabinet this week?

Is the Thai prime minister simply ignorant of her new appointee's alleged support of, in the U.S. government's words, "kleptocratic practies" in Zimbabwe?

Or does she believe Nalinee when she says, according to the AFP, that this is a case of "guilt by association"?

Amusingly, the businesswoman's own Web site is broadcasting her placement on a U.S. "blacklist" through what appears to be an automated headline feed from the Bangkok Post newspaper.