Prosecutors seek life terms, B35bn fines for Boonsong, 20 others

Prosecutors seek life terms, B35bn fines for Boonsong, 20 others

Former commerce minister, cohorts allegedly orchestrated fake G2G rice deals

Surasak Trirattrakul, centre, the public prosecution's director-general for interrogation, leads a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in Bangkok after bringing the fake G2G rice deal case against former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Photo by Tawatchai Khuemgumnerd)
Surasak Trirattrakul, centre, the public prosecution's director-general for interrogation, leads a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in Bangkok after bringing the fake G2G rice deal case against former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Photo by Tawatchai Khuemgumnerd)

Former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and 20 others face life in prison and total fines of 35 billion baht if convicted of corruption charges laid out Tuesday at the Supreme Court.

Officials from the Office of the Attorney General submitted 67,000 pages detailing fake government-to-government rice deals allegedly orchestrated by Mr Boonsong and others during their arraignment at the high court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. None of the defendants appeared at the arraignment.

The OAG's head of interrogation Surasak Trirattrakul said the case targeted three persons previously in political positions in the Yingluck Shinawatra government, three civil servants, and 15 other individuals who were authorised directors of companies and juristic persons. They were charged with committing and supporting malfeasance in violation of the Criminal Code and competitive-bidding and anti-corruption laws.

Prosecutors are seeking life sentences and total fines of 35 billion baht. The fine constitutes half the total value of the bogus G2G rice deals concerning the release of about 5 million tonnes of rice from Sept 8, 2011 to Feb 22, 2013.

Former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom

Apart from Mr Boonsong of the Pheu Thai Party, other defendants include former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol, former secretary to the commerce minister Weerawuthi Wajanaphukka, ex-director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade Manas Soiphet, current Foreign Trade deputy director-general Tikhumporn Natvaratat, and former secretary and director of the DFT's Bureau of Trade and Investment Cooperation Akarapong Dipavajra.

Other defendants are Somkhid Ueansupha, Rathanit Sojirakul, Lit Phorjai, Siam Indica Co, Ratana sae Heng, Ruangwan Lertsalarak, Sutthida Pholdee, Apichart "Sia Piang" Chansakulporn, Nimol Rakdee, Suthee Chuemthaisong, Sunee Chansakulporn, Krisana Suramont, Somyot Khunnajak, Kitha Properties Co (aka Siralai Co), and Thanyaporn Chansakulporn.

The defendants were accused of colluding to help two Chinese firms not authorised by the Chinese government undertake government-to-government deals with the Thai government to buy rice from stockpiles generated by the Yingluck administration's pledging scheme.

The two firms, Guangdong Stationery & Sporting Goods Import & Export Corp and Hainan Grain & Oil Industrial Trading Co, were given rights to buy pledged rice without competition from other bidders.

They then sold the paddy, which they purchased at prices lower than the Yingluck government bought it for, to Thailand's domestic rice traders and for Siam Indica to resell.

Supreme Court judges will select nine justices within 14 days to review the case and the panel will decide by April 20 whether to accept the case for trial.

If the court accepts it for trial, the defendants must appear up or face arrest warrants.

Earlier, a court in Samut Prakan province sentenced Apichart, one of the defendants, to six years in jail and a fine of 12,000 baht and ordered him and his President Agri Trading Co to pay 175 million baht in compensation for 20,000 tonnes of rice they had embezzled from the Commerce Ministry for export to Iran.


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