Supreme Court acquits Yingluck in roadshow case

Supreme Court acquits Yingluck in roadshow case

No evidence of favouritism in B240m project, court rules unanimously

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra (Photo from her Instagram account)
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra (Photo from her Instagram account)

The Supreme Court on Monday acquitted fugitive former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and five others of malfeasance and collusion in the awarding of a 240-million-baht campaign to promote her government's 2-trillion-baht infrastructure projects.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Case Division for Persons Holding Political Positions voted unanimously, 9-0, for acquittal. It ruled that it did not see any intention to favour any party in the implementation of the public relations project.

The court also revoked the previously issued warrant in this case for Yingluck's arrest

The National Anti-Corruption Commission earlier accused Yingluck, former Prime Minister's Office minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, Yingluck's then-secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva, Matichon Plc, Siam Sport Syndicate Plc, and Siam Sport director Ravi Lohtong.

They were indicted in connection with the allocation of 240 million baht to fund the "Roadshow to Thailand's Future Thailand 2020" campaign to promote transport infrastructure development projects in 2013.

The campaign included exhibitions and seminars among other activities.

According to the lawsuit, from late August 2013 to March  2014, the first three defendants - Yingluck, Mr Niwatthamrong and Mr Suranand - allegedly abused their authority by omitting to call public tenders for the work, to favour the companies who won the contracts, named as the fourth and the fifth defendants, 

Without a bidding contest, the first three defendants contracted the fourth to implement the government campaign in 12 provinces, to promote infrastructure projects that Yingluck's government planned to borrow 2 trillion baht to fund.

When the Constitutional Court ruled that poposed legislation to allow the government to borrow the sum was unconstitutional, the roadshow was cancelled. The 240 million baht spent on the campaign was wasteful, according to the NACC.

In an official statement released later on Monday, the Supreme Court’s Criminal Case Division for Persons Holding Political Positions said government organisations and the cabinet had approved the transport infrastructure projects of Yingluck’s government and the Budget Bureau agreed that she, as then-prime minister, could allocate a contingency fund for the public relations project.

The PR project was implemented when Yingluck could not know how the Constitutional Court would rule on the planned borrowing for the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure projects, the court said. The court also found no evidence that Yingluck, Mr Niwatthamrong or Mr Suranand favoured the fourth and the fifth defendants as the contractors of the PR project. In addition, there was not any evidence to prove any price collusion in the roadshow project.

A previous investigation confirmed that budget allocation for the project complied with the procurement regulations of the Prime Minister’s Office, the court said. 

 As Yingluck, Mr Niwatthamrong and Mr Suranand were found innocent, the fourth, fifth and sixth defendants did not appear to support any wrongdoing in the case, the court said.

In December 2023, the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions acquitted Yingluck Shinawatra of malfeasance in her 2011 transfer of a National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general.

Yingluck, 57, has been a fugitive since August 2017, when she failed to appear in court for the reading of its ruling on a charge of dereliction of duty in a rice-pledging programme that ran up at least 500 billion baht in losses, some of it from corruption.

She was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison. A warrant for her arrest in the rice-pledging case remains active.

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