Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wissanu throws Yingluck a lifeline after court allows asset confiscation over rice scheme

Feb 01. 2018
File photo: Yingluck Shinawatra
File photo: Yingluck Shinawatra
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DEPUTY Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-gnam yesterday suggested a legal option regarding the confiscation of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s assets, saying she still had a chance to ask for a court injunction to suspend the enforcement of the law.

While the Administrative Court on Monday rejected Yingluck’s request for an injunction against the administrative order, which in effect allows authorities to resume the seizure of her assets, the former prime minister could have her lawyer submit a new request, he said.

Of the 30 assets listed in regards to the issue, the confiscation of her Bt110-million mansion in Bangkok could be delayed if she could prove it is a marriage property, acquired after her wedding, and had to be shared with her husband, he said.

“People who are living in the house can stay on, but need permission from authorities or have to pay rent,” said Wissanu, a government legal expert. 

Yingluck’s lawyer Noppadon Laothong said earlier her mansion in the capital was among the assets that had been confiscated to pay the compensation demanded for damages stemming from her government’s rice-pledging scheme. The Legal Execution Department, which is under the Justice Ministry, in July last year started freezing the ex-premier’s bank accounts and placing liens over several of her properties. 

Among her assets are 10 land plots in Bangkok and the provinces, her mansion in Bangkok’s Soi Nawamin 111, a condominium suite and 13 bank accounts with total deposits of more than Bt1 million. 

In a financial report submitted to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Yingluck estimated that the mansion, where she had lived before fleeing the country last August, was worth Bt110 million. It was the highest-valued item among her reported assets. 

In October 2016, the Finance Ministry issued an administrative order for Yingluck to pay Bt35 billion in compensation for damages allegedly stemming from her government’s corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck was held responsible for the damages in her capacity as government head and chair of the National Rice Policy Committee.

Yingluck fled the country a few days before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders was scheduled to deliver a verdict in a case against her in the rice-pledging case. A month later, the court sentenced her in absentia to five years in jail for negligence. 

She was later spotted in London around the New Year holidays. Asked if the government could auction Yingluck’s confiscated properties, Wissanu said it could but the Legal Execution Department has decided to put the idea on hold since the ownership of many assets was still unclear.

“Her lawyer might make another appeal to suspend the confiscation. There are |people living in the house. We cannot just force them out,” he said. “We will enforce the law properly and accordingly, not desperately.”

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