Thai agency seeks prosecution of ex-ministers for rice sale
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s anti-graft agency on Tuesday called for corruption charges against a former commerce minister and his deputy for allegedly committing fraud in a government-to-government rice sale.
An investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission found that Boonsong Teriyaphirom and his deputy Poom Sarapol, along with 17 government officials and businessmen, sold rice from the Thai government’s stockpile to a Chinese company that did not represent the mainland government.
Commissioner Wicha Mahakhun, who headed the investigation, said the sale which was supposed to take place between the Thai and Chinese governments, caused “serious losses” to Thailand.
The watchdog’s announcement comes two days before military-appointed lawmakers will vote on whether to impeach ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government was toppled in a coup last May.
Yingluck is accused of dereliction of duty for failing to halt a rice subsidy program that accumulated losses of at least $4.4 billion. Under the program, the government bought rice from farmers at above-market prices but faced losses when selling the grain on the world market.
Supporters of Yingluck say the anti-graft commission is backed by the country’s conservative establishment, which has ousted several governments allied with Yingluck’s brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.