Thailand: Anti-Corruption Agency Urges Action Against Ousted Prime Minister
The National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand has recommended legal action against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, after finding her guilty of negligence for failing to stem corruption and losses in her rice subsidy program, reports Bangkok Post.
Shinawatra, elected in 2011, was ousted on May 8 after the Constitutional Court found her guilty of abuse of power when she transferred an official so her relative could take over. One day after she was removed, the Commission found her guilty of mishandling the rice program, says the Washington Post.
The seven-member Commission unanimously decided yesterday to ask the attorney general to file charges against Shinawatra for dereliction of duty. The attorney general could bring suit in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Position, reports Bloomberg.
If the case goes to court and she is found guilty, Shinawatra, 47, could face up to 10 years in jail, reports the Washington Post.
According to the Commission, Shinawatra should have stopped the rice program after she was warned of losses that rose to US $9.2 billion.
“The defendant, as prime minister, needs to suspend the program soon after acknowledging that there is corruption and losses from the program, but the defendant insisted on continuing the program, creating further losses,” said Commissioner Vicha Mahakun to reporters in Bangkok.
The former prime minister has denied any wrongdoing and insists that the rice program helped lift farmers out of poverty and that there was no intent for corruption, writes Bloomberg. The rice program paid farmers above-market prices for their harvest to raise their incomes, but her government has been criticized for lack of transparency in the extent of losses.
Her critics also allege that the rice program was part of Shinawatra’s election campaign, a tactic to reel in rural voters.
The military, which now rules Thailand, is auditing rice stocks to assess the costs, reports Reuters Africa.