EC takes criminal action against Thanathorn

EC takes criminal action against Thanathorn

Jail term up to 10 years, 20-year political ban if convicted

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the dissolved Future Forward Party, addresses his supporters near Thai Summit Tower in Bangkok shortly after midnight of Feb 21. He announced the Future Forward Movement after the Constitutional Court's dissolution of the party. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the dissolved Future Forward Party, addresses his supporters near Thai Summit Tower in Bangkok shortly after midnight of Feb 21. He announced the Future Forward Movement after the Constitutional Court's dissolution of the party. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party, may face a jail term up to 10 years and a 20-year ban from politics over his media shareholding now that the Election Commission (EC) has decided to pursue criminal charges against him.

The EC resolved on Tuesday to take criminal action against the former auto-parts tycoon for "applying to be an MP candidate knowing he was not qualified" under Section 151 of the 2018 MP Election Act.

The penalties for the offence are a jail term from 1-10 years, a fine from 20,000 to 200,000 baht and a ban from politics for 20 years.

EC officials will file the complaint at Thung Song Hong police station.

The Constitutional Court disqualified him as MP on Nov 20 last year, ruling he still held shares in V-Luck Media Co Ltd on Feb 6, the date the party submitted to the EC the list of its party-list MP candidates of which Mr Thanathorn was No.1.

After the court ruling, the EC office submitted the case for its commissioners to consider pursuing criminal charges against him as required by law at least three times. Each time, the office was told to get more proof that clearly showed that, when Mr Thanathorn applied, he was fully aware he was not qualified as a candidate. Solid evidence and witnesses are needed because he could appeal in the criminal court system, they were told.

The EC said Mr Thanathorn’s case was not the only one it has taken up.

An MP candidate, whom the EC did not name, was found to have been member of a party less than the required 90 days before the election. He will also be charged at the police station.

In addition to the media-shareholding case, the Constitution Court on Feb 21 this year found Mr Thanathorn guilty of giving money or other benefits worth more than 10 million baht to his party. The EC will be required to take criminal action against him. If found guilty, he could be jailed for another five years.

Mr Thanathorn is 41 now. He is serving the 10-year ban from politics for the loans case by the Constitutional Court's order. If he is convicted by the Criminal Court in the media-shareholding case, it remains unclear at this stage how the new ban will affect the existing one since there has been no legal precedent. If it is added to the existing ban, he will be 71 when he will be able to run as MP again. 


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