Thanathorn faces fresh legal challenge over 'loan'
The Election Commission (EC) has been asked to act against Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for yet another controversy in connection with a 110-million-baht loan he allegedly gave to the party wrongfully.
If Mr Thanathorn is found guilty, he could be jailed for up to five years and see his election rights stripped for five years, said political activist Srisuwan Janya, who petitioned the EC yesterday to look into the alleged wrongdoing.
Mr Srisuwan, who is also secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, drew attention to Mr Thanathorn's comments to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand last week when he claimed that he only “lent” the money to his party.
A political party is allowed by law to raise funds or receive donations for uses in its affairs. This led to an interpretation of exactly how the FFP acquired the 110 million baht.
If the money is considered a donation, Mr Thanathorn committed a mistake as Section 66 of the organic law on political parties caps this at 10 million baht a year, Mr Srisuwan said.
That would be enough to land the FFP party leader in trouble, and potentially a penalty of five years behind bars and/or a maximum fine of 100,000 baht, as well as losing his election rights until 2024.
The FFP would also be punished if it received more than a 10-million-baht donation. The law, which aims to stop businesspeople from unfairly interfering with political parties, states that a party leader, along with its executives, would have their election rights removed for that period while the party must pay a fine of up to a million baht.
Mr Srisuwan also suspected the FFP might have illegally used the loan, as the EC prohibits each party from spending more than 35 million baht on election campaigns.
Mr Srisuwan also asked the election watchdog today to probe the qualifications of two senators appointed by the regime's selection panel.
Rawi Rungrueang and Somdet Ninphan, both former state officials, were found guilty by the court of demanding bribes and committing misconduct.
However, they were both later appointed to the 250-member Upper House as senators.