EC defends end to party loan probe
The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday defended its decision to end a probe into illegal loans allegedly obtained by 31 political parties, a move that cleared the parties of wrongdoing, saying its examination into their finances was in line with the Political Parties Act.
According to the EC, public opinion that the financial borrowings by parties were unlawful was based on inaccurate information. The poll agency insisted that all the 31 parties had borrowed within the legal limit.
It also said the commission's examination into party finances was made in line with a decision of the Constitutional Court, which earlier this year ruled to dissolve the Future Forward Party (FFP) over a 191 million baht loan it accepted from its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
Based on the court's decision, the money Mr Thanathorn lent to the party -- which was accepted by the party as "other benefits" -- breached Section 66 of the Political Parties Act, which limits donations to 10 million baht per donor per year.
At the centre of the EC probe was a loan of 30 million baht to the Bhumjaithai Party, a loan of 13 million baht to the Pheu Thai Party and a loan of 12 million baht to the Prachakorn Thai Party.
The EC said that while these three parties had borrowed more than 10 million baht, the loans had been obtained in 2012 and were not yet repaid.
Additionally, the amount of the loan did not exceed the "10-million-baht per year per person" mark. The EC said the finances of these parties were available on its website.
The loan scandal surrounding the now-defunct FFP prompted political activist Srisuwan Janya to petition the EC to look into the borrowings of 31 parties to determine if they violated the law.