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First civil liability action taken over rice-pledging row.
TWELVE of Yingluck Shinawatra’s bank accounts will be seized by the Department of Legal Execution in the first civil liability action against the ex-premier whose rice-pledging scheme has been alleged to have caused huge financial damages to the country.
Somchai Sujjapongse, permanent secretary for finance, said the Finance Ministry, representing the government as the plaintiff, was also pursuing other assets belonging to the ex-premier.
The asset seizures are stipulated by a civil liability committee’s earlier resolution for Yingluck to pay Bt35 billion in compensation to the state to cover heavy losses in the rice-pledging scheme, estimated to amount to several hundred billion baht.
Ruenwadee Suwanmongkol, director-general of the Department of Legal Execution, said the agency had already received the Finance Ministry’s list of Yingluck’s bank accounts for seizure.
Besides the civil liability lawsuit, Yingluck is also facing a Supreme Court verdict on a criminal charge in which she is accused of negligence in her official duties while implementing the rice-pledging scheme, resulting in corruption and substantial financial losses. The high court’s verdict is due on August 25.
The civil liability lawsuit has a 10-year statute of limitations, so authorities can list more assets owned by Yingluck to be seized, Somchai said.
He declined to disclose the amount of bank deposits in the 12 accounts to be seized by the government.
Based on Yingluck’s declaration of assets after leaving the prime minister’s office, her total assets amounted to more than Bt615 million, most of which were in the form of land and other properties, investments and loans. Bank deposits at the time were worth only Bt24.9 million.
Somchai said the Finance Ministry was waiting for more information about Yingluck’s assets from other agencies before it proceeded with further action.
The civil liability committee’s chairman Manas Chaemweha said Yingluck would be held accountable for causing damage to the state during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 rice production seasons. Total compensation for financial losses has been estimated at Bt178 billion, Yingluck’s share of which as prime minister was 20 per cent, or about Bt35 billion.
The ex-premier has been charged with failing to take sufficient action to prevent corruption and substantial financial losses from the scheme, despite repeated warnings from the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
However, the committee said Yingluck could not be held responsible for an additional Bt115-billion compensation for losses during the 2011-12 production season.
Meanwhile, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) yesterday reported that it had found irregularities in the rice-pledging scheme after inspecting warehouses in Sukhothai province, where 5 per cent of the white rice listed in the previous government’s rice-pledging scheme reportedly turned out to be a mix of inferior rice varieties.
The PACC stated that rice paddy from other provinces had been taken to Sukhothai to take advantage of its rice-pledging scheme, including old rice from previous production seasons.
So far, the PACC has identified a total of 990 cases of irregularities in the rice-pledging scheme with Nakorn Sawan having the most cases, followed by Kamphaeng Phet and Sukhothai provinces.
Yingluck’s legal team has petitioned with the Administrative Court seeking an injunction in response to the move to confiscate her assets, according to Noppadon Laothong, one of her lawyers.
In April, the Central Administrative Court dismissed Yingluck’s petition for an injunction concerning a pending civil liability action seeking compensation from her. The court ruled that there was no need for a court injunction at that time because no asset seizures had occurred.