Saturday 18 November 2017

Former Thai Prime Minister to face criminal charges

Yingluck Shinawatra leaving parliament in Bangkok (AP)
Yingluck Shinawatra leaving parliament in Bangkok (AP)

Thailand's attorney general has pressed criminal charges against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for negligence related to her government's money-losing rice subsidy scheme.

The prosecutors' office submitted 20 boxes of the case's documents to the supreme court's criminal division for politicians.

They accused Yingluck of dereliction in overseeing a rice subsidy scheme that lost billions of pounds and temporarily cost Thailand its crown as the world's top rice exporter.

The move is widely seen as an attempt to cripple the political machine of Yingluck's brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, and to prevent his allies from returning to power.

It comes a month after Yingluck was impeached on similar grounds by the military-appointed parliament and banned from politics for five years.

The move is likely to prolong conflicts in a divided nation plagued by political turmoil and coups.

Yingluck was ousted from power by a court decision shortly before the military staged a coup last May and seized power from her elected government.

The supreme court will set up a nine-judge panel, which will decide on March 19 whether to accept the case and formally indict Yingluck.

The national anti-corruption commission yesterday recommended the finance ministry sue her for compensation for damage caused by the rice scheme.

It suggested the amount should be at least 600 billion baht (£11.9 billion).

The rice-buying scheme was a flagship policy that helped Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party win elections in 2011.

But it had accumulated losses of at least £2.89 billion since it was introduced in 2011, as the Thai government stockpiled rice to avoid even bigger losses.

Under the scheme, farmers were paid about 50% above what they would get on the world market.

The anti-corruption body alleged that Yingluck failed to stop massive losses to state coffers.

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