PPRP boss urged to prove his innocence
KTB loan scandal comes back to haunt finance minister
Finance Minister and Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Uttama Savanayana was on Saturday urged to show evidence to prove he rejected a 9.9-billion baht loan to subsidiaries of the Krisdamahanakorn (KMN) real estate company in what is known as the Krung Thai Bank (KTB) loan scandal.
Mr Uttama served as an executive board member of the state-run KTB when it unlawfully approved the loans amounting to nearly 10 billion baht in 2003 during the government of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in 2015 found 24 people including three former executives of the bank guilty of wrongfully approving the loans to the affiliates of Krisdamahanakorn. Mr Uttama has never been charged.
His alleged involvement in the loan scandal was the topic of discussion at "the Third Council Speak" forum organised at the Thai Journalist Association (TJA) and hosted by former finance minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala.
Chaikasem Nitisiri, former justice minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government, on Saturday demanded Mr Uttama come up with proof he did not approve the loan or that he at least protested against the decision.
Citing the bank's meeting report, Mr Chaikasem said there was no evidence that Mr Uttama disapproved the loan even though the finance minister testified in court that he objected to the loan request.
He said that without evidence it would be hard to assume that Mr Uttama had nothing to do with the loan decision.
Wanchai Bunnag, a lawyer who earlier petitioned to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) to prosecute Mr Uttama in connection with the loan scandal, said Mr Uttama was part of the loan review committee which had no records of the loan disapproval.
"So what I'm asking is, when did Mr Uttama indicate that he disagreed with the decision to grant the loan while he was the member of the loan consideration panel?" he said.
Tawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Prachachat Party, said even though Mr Uttama was not prosecuted, the court ruling noted that all the five bank executives had helped the company secure the loan without protecting the bank's interest. Three were judged guilty of the wrongful approval of the loans to the affiliates of Krisdamahanakorn.
He called on the central bank and other agencies to look into the allegations against Mr Uttama or petition the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate his conduct as a politician.
Meanwhile, Mr Uttama said in an interview on Saturday that he had made countless clarifications about the KTB loan scandal which was settled in court.
While noting that he did not mind the questions related to the loan scandal, he said he would not tolerate distortions of facts at his expense.
Unfounded allegations could harm his reputation, he said.
"If the issue is distorted or twisted in a way that causes damage [to me], I'll consider taking legal action," he said.
He added that he was ready to clarify the issue if it was raised in the House amid reports the opposition has threatened to file a no-confidence debate against him over the loan scandal.