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Thailand ex-PM now faces corruption charges

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission voted 7-0 Thursday to recommend that the Senate impeach Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over her handling of a rice subsidy scheme.

The NACC found grounds for charges of dereliction of duty in her role as chair of the National Rice Policy Committee, spokesman Vicha Mahakhun said.

Under the subsidy scheme, the state promised to pay farmers above-market prices for their rice.

The government couldn’t afford to fund the program. Critics said the scheme was corrupt and wasted billions of dollars.

On Wednesday, Thailand’s Constitutional Court removed Yingluck and nine Cabinet members from office for abuse of power. The court said the defendants transferred the National Security Council chief in 2011 to another position for the benefit of Yingluck’s politically powerful family. She has denied the charges.

Anti-corruption commissioner Vicha Mahakun said Thursday: “The NACC submitted letters to warn the defendant twice that the [rice subsidy] would create problems and incur great losses, as well as allow corruption to take place throughout every step of the scheme. Yet the defendant did not consider suspending the project as soon as she learned about the country’s great losses from running the project.”

If the Senate impeaches Yingluck, she’ll be barred from politics for five years.

The remaining members of the Thai cabinet elected a new prime minister Thursday for a care-taker government. Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was formerly minister of commerce.

The anti-corruption commission — a body with powers similar to a court — said it is also considering criminal charges against Yingluck.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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