• Apichart of Sia Pieng

Assets worth Bt7 bn seized over rice deal

politics September 10, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

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Yingluck questions AMLO's action when the judicial process has not been competed yet.



THE Anti-Money Laundering Organisation (AMLO) has seized multiple bank accounts and land plots worth nearly Bt7 billion in connection with the fake government-to-government (G-to-G) rice deals signed by former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom.
The multi-billion-baht assets belong to Siam Indiga Co, Siralai Co and persons related to Apichart Chansakulporn, better known as Sia Pieng, according to Pol General Chaiya Siriamphunkul, secretary-general of AMLO.
He said the National Anti-Corruption Commission had ruled that Boonsong and 21 others were guilty of helping the private firms buy rice from the government’s pledging scheme at a price lower than the domestic price without a competitive bidding process.
Then, these domestic rice transactions were used as bogus G-to-G rice deals between Thailand and China. The wrongdoing led to financial damage in excess of Bt20 billion for the Department of Foreign Trade.
According to AMLO, the assets seized by the agency included 51 bank accounts worth a combined Bt921 million and 611 land plots in Bangkok, Lampoon, Phuket, Phang Nga, Ayuthaya and Angthong, worth a combined Bt5.97 billion.
The fake G-to-G rice deals were signed during the tenure of the Yingluck Shinwatra government, which implemented a massive rice-pledging scheme to buy an unlimited quantity of rice from farmers at Bt15,000 per tonne compared to the then-prevailing market price of Bt7,000 to 8,000 per tonne.
Bogus G-to-G rice deals were then used to show that the government was able to export a significant amount of rice to reduce its financial burden. It was later found, however, that the deals were in fact domestic rice transactions carried out by Siam Indiga and other private firms.
Former premier Yingluck and former commerce minister Boonsong are now facing criminal and civil liability lawsuits in the Supreme Court for violating Article 157 of the Criminal Code and for causing financial damage to the state.
Yingluck previously defended the rice-pledging scheme as a policy that benefited farmers who gained from the high rice price, even though the government faced a heavy loss from buying the massive amount of rice from farmers and was unable to export the crop in large quantities.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam earlier said the Department of Legal Execution will also be authorised under Article 44 of the interim charter to seize assets of suspects in the fake rice deals as the Commerce Ministry is finalising a civil liability lawsuit against Boonsong and others.
Meanwhile, Yingluck yesterday suggested that the justice process would be affected if the government resorts to exercise its authority under Article 44 of the interim charter to seize assets from those alleged to have committed wrongdoing in the rice-pledging scheme.
The former premier yesterday attended the Supreme Court’s hearing on the case while many well-wishers showed up to express moral support for her. She said the justice process is not finished and any civil liability lawsuits should wait until the court makes its ruling.

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