6,000 officials suspected in B142bn rice scheme loss

6,000 officials suspected in B142bn rice scheme loss

Public auditors find rotting grain at a warehouse in Phitsanulok province during an survey of rice stockpiled under former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's rice-pledging scheme in 2014. (Photo by Chinawat Singha)
Public auditors find rotting grain at a warehouse in Phitsanulok province during an survey of rice stockpiled under former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's rice-pledging scheme in 2014. (Photo by Chinawat Singha)

The justice minister has received a list of 6,000 state officials suspected of malfeasance leading to losses totalling 142 billion baht in the Yingluck Shinawatra government's rice-pledging scheme.

Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said at Government House on Tuesday that the list came from the Prime Minister's Office and the ministries of agriculture, commerce, finance and interior. 

Of the 6,000 names, 2,000 were former ministers and members of sub-committees at executive levels, and the other 4,000 were officials at operational levels, the justice minister said.

That did not mean all of the listed people had already been found guilty, Gen Paiboon said. Authorities would examine the details to confirm those really responsible for the loss, and how much they should pay individually to compensate the state.

He also said the Interior Ministry had yet to list business operators also responsible for the 142 billion baht loss.

The government is demanding 178 billion baht in compensation for the losses accumulated by Ms Yingluck's rice-pledging scheme for the 2012-2014 crops. The former prime minister has been ordered to pay 20% of the sum, or 35.7 billion baht. The military government blames her for not stopping the scheme once it was found plagued with losses and corruption, despite being advised repeatedly to do so.

The government has said it would order the other government officials involved, and business operators, to pay the remaining 80%, totalling 142 billion baht.

The Yingluck government's pledging price was set at 40-50% higher than the market price in the hope that hoarding rice in massive stockpiles would push up global prices, but the scheme backfired. 

In September Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued an order under Section 44 of the 2014 interim constitution authorising the Legal Execution Department to seize the assets of state officials found liable to pay civil damages for the rice programme losses.



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