Election Commission asked to probe minister's shares

Election Commission asked to probe minister's shares

Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol
Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol

The Election Commission (EC) is being asked to examine Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol's shares to determine whether she has adhered to a ministerial shareholding rule and is, therefore, still eligible for her post.

Political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana submitted a petition to the EC to find out if Ms Sudawan still holds shares in a private firm via nominees, a move that would be a violation of the constitution.

Section 187 of the charter prohibits a minister or their spouse from holding shares of a commercial company. If a court finds Ms Sudawan guilty of violating the rule, she may lose her job under Section 170.

If a minister wishes to continue receiving stockholding benefits, he or she must inform the National Anti-Corruption Commission within 30 days of starting their role and transfer their shares to a management firm.

According to Mr Ruangkrai, his petition is based on two items on a list by Ms Sudawan submitted to the NACC on July 4 last year when she assumed her role as a member of parliament.

One of the items was income from the sale of various shares valued at 459,364,000 baht for which the payment had not yet been made, he said. The other item was lending contracts worth 459,364,000 signed with five share buyers who were listed as borrowers, he said. 

He said these transactions raised suspicion about whether Ms Sudawan had sold the shares because the payment had not yet been made.

There are also questions about whether these transactions were an attempt to circumvent the shareholding rule, he said. As Ms Sudawan was not required to resubmit her list of assets and debts upon being appointed a cabinet minister in September last year, he says has decided to ask the EC to investigate if the payment was made.

If the payment was not made by the day she assumed the ministry post, the EC should see if the transactions can be considered as an attempt to conceal her shares or hold them through nominees, he said.

He said Ms Sudawan's debts of 193,725,000 baht included three loans from her parents, both of whom were listed as creditors in the share sale contracts.

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