Asset seizures in rice deals begin

Asset seizures in rice deals begin

A worker picks a sack of rice at a warehouse in Bangkok. Officials will begin seizing the assets of five ex-commerce ministers and officials after the Administrative Court dismissed their injunction requests. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A worker picks a sack of rice at a warehouse in Bangkok. Officials will begin seizing the assets of five ex-commerce ministers and officials after the Administrative Court dismissed their injunction requests. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Legal Execution Department can now seize assets worth 20 billion baht from former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and five others in the allegedly bogus rice sale scheme during the Yingluck Shinawatra government, says permanent secretary for commerce.

Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa said on Tuesday the Foreign Trade Department had submitted last week a document authorising the Legal Execution Department to seize the assets of Mr Boonsong, his deputy Poom Sarapol and four Commerce Ministry officials. The document was sent along asset-tracing information found in the first round. 

The six ex-commerce officials are on trial for alleged corruption in government-to-government rice sales with China. The sixth person is still at large.

Mr Boonsong is required to pay 1.77 billion baht in compensation and then deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol 2.3 billion baht for the damage caused by the failed G2G rice sales. The four Commerce Ministry officials were asked to pay 4 billion baht each.

A commerce ministry source said the first round of asset tracing mainly involved the ex-officials’ salary bank accounts. Authorities will examine further to find if the group had other hidden assets such as land or more bank accounts. 

Miss Wiboonlasana said the Foreign Trade Department had asked concerned agencies in the provinces to help in the second round of asset tracing. A working panel comprising those experienced in locating and recovering assets would be formed to help. 

On Feb 10, the Central Administrative Court dismissed petitions by Mr Boonsong and four others involved in the scandalous rice sale deal for an injunction against an administrative order demanding they pay compensation for the scheme’s losses.  It reasoned their assets had not been seized yet so the damages had not been done.

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