Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government was toppled by a coup in 2014, missed a verdict in her negligence trial last month.
Reaction to the five-year sentence was subdued, however, with local news reports saying less than 100 supporters gathered in front of the court for the verdict, many fewer than the thousands who converged on 25 August when Yingluck was originally to be sentenced.
Analysts say Yingluck likely cut a deal with the military leaders, who are bent on erasing her powerful clan from the political scene.
Despite the significance of the case and the verdict to the country, few people showed up at the court yesterday, which was attributed to Yingluck's absence.
After which, a warrant was issued for her arrest.
She took office in 2011. "I have spies", he said, adding that to his knowledge Ms Yingluck has not sought asylum overseas.
The Shinawatras had commanded huge support by courting rural voters, helping them to win every general election since 2001, but their foes accused them of corruption and nepotism. According to authorities, this caused the country $8 billion, in financial losses.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University, said the Puea Thai Party was now "rudderless".
It has been speculated that she is in exile in Dubai with her brother, also a former prime minister, but she has not made any public statements since fleeing. The military seized power.