EC accuses Thanathorn of breaching MP rules

EC accuses Thanathorn of breaching MP rules

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party, and his supporters flash three-finger salutes as he leaves a police station after hearing a sedition complaint filed by the army in Bangkok on April 6. (Reuters photo)
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party, and his supporters flash three-finger salutes as he leaves a police station after hearing a sedition complaint filed by the army in Bangkok on April 6. (Reuters photo)

The Election Commission has accused Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of violating MP rules on media shareholding.

In a statement on Tuesday, the EC said after collecting evidence, it found Mr Thanathorn owned 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media Co Ltd. The MP law bans MPs from holding shares in media companies.

Mr Thanathorn owned V-Luck Media Co Ltd, publisher of the now-defunct WHO! people and lifestyle magazine. He said he had sold the shares on March 8 last year to his mother before applying to be MP and showed evidence of the transactions on his Facebook page. However, some media outlets questioned whether the share sale took place after the March 24 poll, leading to the EC's investigation.

In its statement, the EC secretary-general will inform Mr Thanathorn of the accusation, examine evidence and hear witnesses. Mr Thanathorn has seven days after being informed to submit evidence against the accusation.

Deputy EC secretary-general Sawang Boonmee declined to say whether the former auto-parts tycoon would be banned from politics or his party would be dissolved, saying the decision rests with the EC commissioners.

But he said Mr Thanathorn might face criminal charges if he was found to have applied to become MP knowing he was not qualified. "Whether the party will be disbanded because he used his position as party leader to guarantee his qualifications when he applied will be considered later," Mr Sawang said.

The EC executive dismissed news reports the chairman of a subcommittee investigating the case had quit because he was pressured to issue the orange card to Mr Thanathorn.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, FFP secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul held a briefing on the case after reports Mr Thanathorn might get the orange card. According to existing laws, he said the EC could no longer deliberate on cases involving qualifications of MP candidates.

He said the EC had never given Mr Thanathorn a chance to explain so it was unlikely the EC would formally accuse him. 

However, Mr Sawang insisted the EC had the authority to check qualifcations whether before or after the poll.


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