Pheu Thai's Chinnicha loses House seat over false asset statement

national April 21, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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Chinnicha Wongsawat has been stripped of her status as a Pheu Thai Party MP for Chiang Mai and faces a five-year ban from holding office after she was found guilty of filing a false asset statement.

Chinnicha, the daughter of former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat and niece of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, was fined Bt4,000, although as a first-time offender her jail term was suspended for one year.

Her case came to light in connection with the Asset Examination Committee (AEC)’s investigation into the business empire of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The AEC froze bank accounts in Chinnicha’s name worth Bt6.8 million and uncovered seven loan transactions worth a total of Bt100 million with Bhanapot Damapong, an in-law of Thaksin’s.
Picking up on the AEC investigation, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) found that Chinnicha had failed to report her assets and liabilities linked to Thaksin’s business empire.
Although Chinnicha subsequently amended her asset statement, she did so after the discovery of her ties to the business empire became public knowledge.
The NACC petitioned the Supreme Court to launch a judicial review into the case.
The high court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders on Thursday handed down a guilty verdict, but cited Chinnicha’s lack of a prior record as grounds for leniency.
In a separate development, the Constitution Court yesterday threw out two cases involving Democrat and Pheu Thai MPs charged with meddling in the distribution of flood-relief supplies.
The high court cited a lack of incriminating evidence in dropping the charges.
In the first case, Pheu Thai MPs contended that Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and MP Warong Dechgitvigrom had coerced local authorities into allocating government-issued relief supplies to the two politicians for distribution to flood victims in Phitsanulok.
The high court ruled there was no evidence of coercion. Furthermore, the two were duty-bound to address the plight of the people in the face of the flooding, the verdict said.
In the second case, the Democrats charged that Justice Minister Pracha Promnok and six Pheu Thai MPs had exceeded their mandate while allocating relief supplies.
The court said the urgent need to assist flood victims justified the accused taking part in the relief operations.
“There was no evidence to suggest that the accused gained personally from the relief supplies,” the verdict said.
The two cases were a fallout from last year’s censure debate on flood-control efforts. Coalition and Opposition lawmakers blamed each other for the botched effort.

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