Ex-ministers’ assets to be seized over rice scheme

politics September 08, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

THE GOVERNMENT will likely exercise absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter to seize ex-politicians’ multi-billion-baht assets in connection with fake government-to-government (G-to-G) rice deals signed by former commerce minister Boonsong



He said an executive order would be issued authorising the Department of Legal Execution to seize the assets if state officials and politicians were found guilty under the civil liability law.
According to the deputy premier, the Commerce Ministry, which is responsible for filing civil liability lawsuits against the suspects, might not have the resources to confiscate the assets, so the task has to be given to the Department of Legal Execution.
Wissanu said the move was not targeting any particular former politician, but since the statute of limitations in these cases is short, the government has no choice but to accelerate the process. 
According to the Commerce Ministry, former commerce minister Boonsong, his deputy Poom Sarapol, their secretaries as well as two senior Commerce officials were responsible for the signing of bogus G-to-G rice deals with Chinese entities. This was in connection with the Yingluck Shinawatra-led government’s rice-pledging scheme, which resulted in estimated damages of more than Bt20 billion.
Former premier Yingluck is also facing criminal and civil liability lawsuits in relation to the rice-pledging scheme.
Wissanu said suspects in the fake G-to-G rice deal case might file a petition with the Administrative Court to overturn the order on asset confiscation or seek an injunction. Previously, there were about 3,000 cases involving the seizure of assets worth between Bt2 million and Bt5 million in each of the cases, and they were not too complicated for authorities to proceed. 
“In cases involving this rice-pledging scheme or tapioca or maize schemes, we have found that each of the ministries concerned are not able to proceed. As a result, we need a specialist agency to do the task. In principle, we need to seize the assets first, even though the court may issue an injunction on that executive order. In this case, we may need absolute authority under Article 44 for the Department of Legal Execution to help expedite the asset seizure like what we did in the Phu Thap Boek resort case,” Wissanu said.