Chinnicha hit with five-year politics ban

Chinnicha hit with five-year politics ban

The Supreme Court has banned Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai Chinnicha Wongsawat from politics for five years over a false declaration of her assets and liabilities.

Chinnicha: Falsely declared assets

Ms Chinnicha is a niece of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the daughter of former premier Somchai Wongsawat, whose wife Yaowapa is Thaksin's younger sister.

In its ruling yesterday, the court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political

Positions said Ms Chinnicha had intentionally made a false declaration of assets and liabilities in violation of Section 259 and Section 263 of the constitution and Section 119 of the Anti-Corruption Act.

The court thus disqualified Ms Chinnicha as an MP and banned her from taking up any political office and any position in a political party for five years.

The court also sentenced her to two months in prison, suspended for one year, and ordered her to pay a fine of 4,000 baht.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission filed a petition against Ms Chinnicha after its investigation found that she had made a false assets declaration after she was elected as an MP in January 2008.

The anti-graft agency said Ms Chinnicha borrowed 100 million baht from her uncle Bannapot Damapong but failed to include the debt in her declaration to the NACC on taking up her House seat.

Mr Bannapot is a stepbrother of Potjaman na Pombejra, Thaksin's ex-wife.

She refiled her assets declaration on Oct 31, 2008, eight months after becoming an MP. Ms Chinnicha argued that she had been unsure if she should list the debt in her assets declaration because the funds were frozen, along with other Shinawatra family assets, by the now-defunct Assets Scrutiny Committee.

She said she honestly believed she could not do anything about the money and had to wait until the ASC unfroze the assets.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday that a team of lawyers representing Ms Chinnicha are looking to appeal the verdict.

He said the lawyers were trying to gather fresh evidence that may change the case so that Ms Chinnicha can appeal the verdict with the assembly of the Supreme Court within 30 days of the verdict being issued. This is in line with Section 278 of the constitution.

The case is not closed as long as the constitution allows this, Mr Prompong said.

Election Commissioner Prapun Naigowit said the EC will hold a by-election in Chiang Mai's Constituency 3 to replace Ms Chinnicha within 45 days.

The by-election is expected to take place in early June and will cost about 10 million baht, Mr Prapun said.

The constituency comprises San Kamphaeng, Mae On and Doi Saket districts.

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