Jirachai Moonthongroy, deputy permanent secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, who headed a committee looking into administrative offences involving the rice programme, reported the findings to Prime Minister’s Office Minister ML Panadda Diskul yesterday (Aug 1).
ML Panadda said the panel also reported that former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and five former key ministry officials are liable to pay B18.7 billion in compensation for bogus government-to-government (G2G) rice deals.
He noted the Yingluck administration received 13.3 million tonnes of paddy under the pledging programme, adding that less than one million tonnes was exported and 13 million tonnes were kept in warehouses.
ML Panadda insisted the government is probing the case honestly and transparently without prejudice.
“The figures came from a thorough deliberation process from all parties participating in the meetings,” the minister said, adding state agencies must be held accountable for what they have done.
“The use of power has to be carried out with care. Civil servants need to learn they cannot do everything they want.”
The B286.6-billion damage evaluation is much lower than the more than B500 billion previously evaluated by a panel of the Finance Ministry.
Mr Jirachai said the latest figure will be forwarded to a committee on civil liability, chaired by the comptroller-general, to consider whether to seek compensation for the sum from Ms Yingluck.
Under the process, if the panel agrees, it will have to request that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issue an administrative order to demand compensation from Ms Yingluck, said a government source.
The findings will also be reported to the national rice policy and management committee, chaired by the prime minister, tomorrow (Aug 3), Mr Jirachai added.
Mr Jirachai said the panel, chaired by the comptroller-general, has agreed to push up the liability for Mr Boonsong and other former ministerial officials to B20 billion instead of the B18 billion proposed by his committee.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry says it will write to Mr Boonsong and the five ex-ministerial officials demanding they reimburse the losses incurred by the G2G rice deals.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the administrative order letters will be signed by Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn and sent to the offenders, who will have 30 days to pay.
If they fail to pay, another notification letter would be sent to them within 15 days, she said.
If they still ignore it, another letter indicating enforcement measures will be issued and a working panel will be formed to discuss with representatives from the legal execution department, the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) and prosecutors whether to seize their assets, Ms Duangporn added.
The six offenders however can petition the Administrative Court, asking it to revoke the administrative order once they receive it, she said.
This will also depend on what the alleged offenders petition against, such as the revocation of the order or the amount of money they are required to pay.
If the court dismisses the petition, the enforcement in line with the administration order can proceed, Ms Duangporn added.
“Now it is a matter of the legal process. The department sent the administrative order to the commerce minister to sign last Friday (July 29). The letters indicated clearly the amount the six have to compensate. They will be sent after they are signed,” said Ms Duangporn.
Ms Yingluck is accused of dereliction of duty for failing to stop her government’s loss-ridden rice scheme despite being warned of the potential damage. Her case in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders is still ongoing.
Mr Jirachai testified in court on May 13 that Ms Yingluck’s rice scheme led to B510.6 billion in losses. By May 22, 2014, the project’s cost stood at B653 billion, plus the B24 billion in management expenses and B30 billion in interest payments.
The scheme had made B189 billion in revenue.
As for the loss of B510.6 billion, the committee subtracted farmers’ benefits and interest payments and found Ms Yingluck was still liable for B286.6 billion in losses, he told the court.
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