Thanathorn sues EC commissioners

Thanathorn sues EC commissioners

Malfeasance charges filed for rushing his media-share case

Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks to reporters at Parliament on June 5. (Photo by Amornthep Chotchalermpong)
Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks to reporters at Parliament on June 5. (Photo by Amornthep Chotchalermpong)

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the embattled leader of the Future Forward Party (FFP), has taken legal action against all seven election commissioners for malfeasance, less than two days before the Constitutional Court rules on his media-share case.

He accused them of violating the 2017 Election Commission Act and Section 157 of the Criminal Code. He alleged they had rushed to send the case in which he was accused of having shares in a media company when applying to be MP to the Constitutional Court even though the EC’s fact-finding panel set up to probe his case had yet to finish its job.

The MP law lists having shares in media companies as a prohibition and ground for disqualification.  

His lawyer filed the lawsuit with the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Monday and the court will decide whether to accept it on Dec 3.

According to the complaint, the seven commissioners failed to follow the procedures required by law before charging him.

It claimed the commissioners voted to forward the case to the Constitutional Court even though the fact-finding process had not finished and there was no credible evidence Mr Thanathorn had committed the offence.  

The EC decided to send Mr Thanathorn’s case to the Constitutional Court on May 16. The court will rule on the case on Wednesday.

Dozens of MPs also faced the same charges as Mr Thanathorn since both opposition and coalition MPs had accused each other of the same offence. Some filed complaints against the others directly to the Constitutional Court through the House speaker as allowed by law without going through the EC.

The Constitutional Court decided in late May to suspend Mr Thanathorn from performing MP duty and not the others while it deliberated the cases. It reasoned the EC had already examined his case while the cases against others have yet to be looked into.

Mr Thanathorn held 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media Co Ltd, which published the people and lifestyle magazine Who! and Jibjib, an inflight magazine for Nok Air. The publications folded two years ago and the company was closed.

Mr Thanathorn claimed he had sold the shares to his mother on Jan 8 this year for 6.75 million baht. As evidence he showed the share transfer certificate signed by a notary, share certificates, an account-payee cheque and a shareholder register.

The change in the register of shareholders of V-Luck Media was reported to the Department of Business Development (DBD) at the Commerce Ministry on March 21.

The change in the shareholder register is simply an annual update that all companies have to submit to the DBD. For obvious reasons, the law does not require companies to inform the DBD every time a share transaction occurs.

Mr Thanathorn said that under the Civil Code (Section 1129), a share transfer takes effect when it is made in writing and with witnesses.

Some media outlets later challenged his claim, saying he was in Buri Ram on Jan 8 so he could not possibly have returned to Bangkok to transfer the shares on the same day. They floated the possibility that he had forged evidence to avoid being disqualified.

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