EC denies Thanathorn claim

EC denies Thanathorn claim

Media shares probe not rushed, it says

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit

The Election Commission (EC) has insisted that it did not rush submitting the V-Luck Media shareholding case against Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit to the Constitutional Court.

The poll agency defended its actions after Mr Thanathorn on Monday filed a legal complaint against all seven of its members for malfeasance, ahead of the Constitutional Court's ruling on the case on Wednesday.

He accused them of violating the 2017 Election Commission Act and Section 157 of the Criminal Code. He alleged they rushed to send the case, in which he is accused of holding shares in the media company when he applied to be MP, to the Constitutional Court even though an EC fact-finding panel examining the case had yet to finish its job.

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.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the poll agency said that it acted in line with the constitution, and denied there was any political agenda behind the move. FFP spokeswoman Pannika Wanich on Monday questioned whether the EC's haste in sending the case to court was politically motivated.

The EC said that its probe panel gave Mr Thanathorn an opportunity to defend himself and present evidence.

The EC alleges Mr Thanathorn held shares in V-Luck Media Co, a media firm, when he registered as an MP candidate in early February, in violation of Section 98 (3) of the charter, which prohibits owners and shareholders of media or publishing firms from applying to become MPs.

The case was later handed to the Constitutional Court which issued an order suspending Mr Thanathorn as an MP on May 23, pending a ruling.

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

The EC on Tuesday also repeated its demand for additional documents from the FFP for its probe into Mr Thanathorn's loans to his own party.

EC members had resolved unanimously to push for the demand, the commission's office announced on Tuesday, because the party had failed to provide some documents that were required for the investigation.

The documents were demanded to ensure fairness for all involved, it said.

The inquiry is in response to activist Srisuwan Janya's request in May that the EC investigate whether Mr Thanathorn broke the law by giving a loan worth over 100 million baht to his own party.

In his petition against Mr Thanathorn, Mr Srisuwan cited Section 66 of the organic law on political parties, which bars any individual from donating or giving money, assets or interests to parties in excess of 10 million baht in any 12-month period.

Mr Thanathorn said earlier that he lent money to his party to fund its campaign for the general election because the FFP was unable to raise enough money in the short time since its establishment on Oct 3, last year.

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