Court upholds B14.5bn rice scheme redress
Petition to quash state order fails
Former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and four other officials have been ordered to pay hefty compensation stemming from the Yingluck Shinawatra administration’s rice-pledging scheme.
The Central Administrative Court on Monday threw out the five defendants’ petition for it to nullify a state order for them to pay for the damages caused by the bogus rice sales.
The petitioners were Mr Boonsong; Manas Soiploy, the former director-general of the Foreign Trade Department (FTD); Tikhumporn Natvaratat, the former director of the Bureau of Rice Trade Administration; Akharapong Theepwatchara, former secretary to the FTD; and former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol.
They were convicted by the the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions in 2017 for their roles in engineering the fraudulent sale of rice to China.
Boonsong was sentenced to 42 years in jail; Poom to 36 years; Manas to 40 years; Tikhumporn to 32 years and Akharapong to 24 years.
The court found the rice-purchase agreements were not government-to-government (G2G) contracts but instead involved sales of the pledged rice to private companies that sold them to a third party.
Another person with established link in the bogus scheme was Apichart “Sia Piang” Chansakulporn, an executive of the rice exporter Siam Indica, who was sentenced to 48 years. He was also ordered to pay 16.9 billion baht in damages to the Finance Ministry.
The five others filed a petition with the Central Administrative Court (CAC) asking that it overturn the Commerce Ministry’s order for them to pay for damages resulting from their abuse of authority in conducting the fake G2G rice deal.
However, the CAC ruled they had a clear intention to commit graft in collusion with political post holders, state officials and private parties.
They also delegated the work among themselves in carrying out the fraud with no regard for the damage they were inflicting on the country’s rice exports and violated the cabinet resolution that barred rice stocks from being sold below market prices, the court found.
They also had a hand in changing methods of payment which were inconsistent with the practice stipulated in honouring the G2G deal, according to the court.
Under the order, Manas is to pay compensation of 4 billion baht; Tikhumporn, 4 billion baht; Poom, 2.2 billion baht; Akharapong, 2.6 billion baht and Boonsong, 1.7 billion baht.
The five can appeal the ruling within 30 days.