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Prosecutors agree to indict Yingluck

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Prosecutors agree to indict Yingluck | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Nails in Yingluck’s coffin?
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s chances of avoiding impeachment on Friday got a lot slimmer yesterday after a joint working group of anti-graft officials and public prosecutors agreed to indict her on a long-standing criminal case.

The anti-graft agency has also charged former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and associates for corruption in the rice-pledging scheme.

The criminal case was first flagged in July last year, when the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) accused Ms Yingluck of dereliction of duty in relation to the rice scheme. Yesterday, the joint NACC and Office of Attorney-General group resolved that they have enough evidence to take a case against her to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.

“The Attorney General will file the case in court in days,” Sansern Poljieak, secretary-general of the attorney-general’s office, said.

Ms Yingluck will be indicted for dereliction of duty in regard to the rice-pledging scheme. If found guilty, she could face one to 10 years in prison or a fine of between 2,000 and 20,000 baht or both.

On the political front, this consensus and graft charges laid against the ministers offer solid ground for members of the National Legislative Assembly to vote to impeach her for negligence in handling the scheme, which caused huge damage to national coffers and the rice trade.

The NACC decided yesterday to file the charge, alleging that former commerce minister Mr Boonsong and former deputy commerce minister Poom Saraphol created illegal government-to-government (G2G) rice sale deals. The case will be filed at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.

Mr Boonsong said the NACC had a hidden agenda in charging him and other officials only two days before the NLA will vote on Ms Yingluck’s impeachment.

“I’m a victim for the NACC to link the case to the impeachment although the case could clearly be separated,” he said.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday instructed members of the junta and the Cabinet to help explain the impeachment case to the public. “The case will be an indicator to measure ethics and leadership of politicians in the [previous] government,” deputy spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd quoted Gen Prayut as saying.

Ms Yingluck had no leadership or ethics, as she was not prepared to answer questions [about the rice scheme] in the NLA by herself, Mr Sansern said.

The NLA will vote on Friday on whether to impeach Ms Yingluck for negligence over the rice scheme, as well as former Parliament president Somsak Kiatsuranont and his deputy Nikom Wairatpanij for supporting amendments to change the make-up of the Senate.

The NACC will set up a new investigation team to probe other rice sale contracts for a combined total of about five million tonnes of rice in G2G contracts during Ms Yingluck’s government after allegedly finding that partner companies in China were not assigned by China’s government.

An investigation team will also investigate a tapioca sale contract in an alleged G2G deal during the Yingluck government.

The NACC’s Wicha Mahakhun said the team would calculate total losses from the rice sale contracts and call for punishment and compensation. “Thailand has faced a huge loss from the scheme and somebody, including these groups of people should responsible for these huge losses,” he said.

However, he has not said how much of the losses will be sought from those involved, if they are convicted – only saying that the pledging scheme cost the country about 600 billion baht.

The two ex-ministers claimed the government won a deal to sell rice bought from Thai farmers under the pledging scheme to the Chinese government. But the NACC fact-finding committee said business firms were paid to undertake the G2G deal and sold the rice locally, instead of exporting it. They are also alleged to have claimed tax refunds from the government. It also found the Chinese firms were not assigned by Beijing.

The NACC alleges that rice was sold from government stock to Guangdong Stationery & Sporting Goods Import & Export Corp, plus Hainan Grain and Oil Industrial Trading Co at cheap prices and the firms resold the rice to Siam Indica – to resell the rice in Thailand.

Mr Wicha said two firms – Siam Indica and Siralai – would face charges along with mr Boonsong’s secretary-general, three government officials, and 13 individuals. He said the NACC would also summon over 100 rice trading firms to be questioned and they might be sued to pay compensation to the government to try to recoup some of the huge costs.

Mr Wicha said the outcome of the investigation into four G2G contracts was on schedule and should not involve the National Legislative Assembly’s move on whether to impeach Ms Yingluck.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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