By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
Civil liability case against former minister Boonsong and five others gets go-ahead in 'fake' rice deal case
THE GOVERNMENT will seek massive compensation totalling Bt20 billion from former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and five others in a major civil-liability case concerning alleged fake government-to-government deals to sell 6.2 million tonnes of rice to China.
The civil-liability case was given the go-ahead by Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn and Commerce permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara yesterday.
According to the ministry’s document, Boonsong will likely face a compensation lawsuit of Bt1.7 billion while Bt2.3 billion will be sought from his then deputy minister Poom Sarapol.
In addition, the former secretary to the commerce minister Weerawut Wajanaphukka; the former Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) director-general Manas Soiploy; the DFT’s former director of foreign rice trade unit Tikhumporn Natvaratat; and former DFT secretary Akharaphong Chuaikliang will face compensation lawsuits of Bt4 billion each.
After receiving the executive order on the case from the Commerce Ministry, all six defendants will have 30 days to lodge an appeal. If there is no response, the ministry will issue another notice to the defendants to appeal within the next 15 days.
If there is still no appeal, the Commerce Ministry will forward the case to the Department of Legal Execution, which has been empowered to seize the defendants’ assets. However, the defendants can petition the Administrative Court for an injunction against the seizure of assets.
All six defendants were responsible for signing alleged bogus G-to-G agreements with China for the sale of 6.2 million tonnes from the Thai government’s rice stockpile during the Yingluck Shinawatra administration’s rice-pledging scheme. However, these alleged fake deals led to only domestic rice sales and there were no exports.
Awaiting documents on Yingluck
Commerce Minister Apiradi yesterday signed the executive order on behalf of Prime Minister Prayut Chan o-cha, while the Commerce permanent secretary signed the order on behalf of the commerce minister.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Apisak Tantiworawong said he had not yet received a document on another case concerning former premier Yingluck Shinwatra’s civil liability in the rice-pledging scheme.
The government has already set aside Bt59 billion in the fiscal 2017 expenditure budget to
cover the massive financial damage totalling an estimated Bt510 billion resulting from the previous government’s rice-pledging scheme.
Apisak said he will have to study the details of the case before signing the document to proceed with the civil-liability lawsuit against the former premier. A government committee responsible for this case has yet to finalise the compensation amount to be sought from the defendants in this case, he explained. “I will undersign the document along with the prime minister after which the document will be forwarded to the Department of Legal Execution for further action,” he said.
In a Facebook post, Boonsong said it was unfair for the Prayut government to exercise authority under Article 44 of the interim charter to seize ex-politicians’ assets ahead of the court’s final verdict over alleged wrongdoing in G-to-G rice deals and other related cases.
Boonsong also threatened to file counter-lawsuits against those who are responsible for unfair legal actions against him.
The former minister also said his criminal case is still pending in the Supreme Court so there should be no hurry on the civil-liability case.
According to law, the statute of limitations in the civil-liability case will expire in February next year.
Former premier Yingluck is also facing a similar criminal lawsuit in the Supreme Court as well as a pending civil-liability case.