Thai ex-PM’s assets targetted over rice scheme

Bangkok, Oct 13 (IANS) The Thai government has planned to claim the assets of former prime miister Yingluck Shinawatra to compensate the state for losses incurred from her administration’s rice-pledging scheme, the media reported on Tuesday.

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has accused Yingluck of using the rice-pledging scheme to gain votes from farmers and win the national general election in 2011. If found guilty, she could face a maximum of 10 years in jail, The Bangkok Post reported.

The NACC concluded that the implementation of the scheme from 2011 to 2014 resulted in a loss of 518 billion baht (about $14 billion), meaning about 200 billion baht (about $5 billion) per year, and the state would take about three decades to repay the debts resulting from the loss incurred using the taxpayers’ money.

The government said the action is to prevent the case from expiring based on the two-year statute of limitations, which will expire in February 2017.

Yingluck has criticised the move on her Facebook page, saying that the government is trying to act like a court itself, adding the order is only intended to avoid a hefty court fee if the case is brought to a civil trial.

She also requested the government hold off on seizing her assets until the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders gives its ruling on a related criminal case against her.

The government has set up two panels to determine if Yingluck and 21 other people are financially liable for the losses incurred by the rice scheme.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon insisted the move to invoke the order to seize assets from Yingluck followed the law.

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