From 2001 to 2006, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra transformed Thailand's international role from one of obscurity into a kind of regional hegemon. Thaksin's diplomatic ambitions were reflected in his myriad of grandiose foreign policy initiatives, designed to locate Thailand at the forefront of regional politics and reinstall the Thai sphere of influence over weaker neighbouring states. He abolished the traditional bending-with-the-wind foreign policy, revamped the Thai Foreign Ministry, and empowered Thai envoys through the CEO Ambassadors programme. But in this process, Thaksin was accused of exploiting foreign policy to enrich his business empire. Thaksin's reinvention of Thailand as an up-and-coming regional power was therefore tainted by conflicts of interest and the absence of ethical principles in the country's foreign policy.