Move Forward Party leader faces scrutiny over media company shares ownership
Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), is facing increased scrutiny over claims that he owns shares in a now-defunct media company. Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) list-MP candidate, recently petitioned the Election Commission (EC) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate Pita, who is also the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
This follows Pita’s explanation on Tuesday, stating that the iTV shares belong to his family, but appear to be registered under his name, as he was appointed executor for the shares when his father passed away 17 years ago. Pita also mentioned that the NACC had been briefed about the shares’ existence, and he was not concerned about the fresh attempt to discredit him.
However, Ruangkrai insisted that, according to company registration documents from the Department of Business Development, as of April 27 last year, Pita owned 42,000 shares in iTV. Ruangkrai also highlighted that during iTV’s last shareholder’s meeting, the company’s executives claimed that iTV was still a media company, even though it had ceased operations.
Ruangkrai acknowledged that Pita might have already explained the situation regarding the shares to the NACC, but the new petition for the EC pertains to Pita’s eligibility to run in the past general election. Adding to this, Ruangkrai did not find any mention of these iTV shares in the asset list Pita declared to the NACC when he was sworn in as an MP after the last election. As a result, Ruangkrai also petitioned the NACC to investigate potential false asset declaration by Pita.
According to Ruangkrai, the Election Commission should act quickly in this case, as its decision could possibly change the outcome of the election. If the EC pursues the Constitutional Court’s opinion on the issue, the situation might end similarly to the media shareholding case involving Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who is now serving as a campaign assistant for the MFP. Thanathorn was disqualified as an MP after the court ruled that he was ineligible to run in the last election due to his shares in V-Luck Media Co.
While Ruangkrai dismissed criticism that he was trying to discredit Pita, the media share case against Pita has received mixed reactions. Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn cited Section 1599 of the Civil and Commercial Code, stating that Pita could not claim the iTV shares did not belong to him, as he automatically received his part of the inheritance when his father passed away, reports Bangkok Post.
On the other hand, independent academic Sarinee Achavanuntakul argued that the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions tends to focus on the amount of influence an MP could have on a media company in which they hold shares.
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