The prime minister needs to take urgent action before the two-year statute of limitations for the case runs out next February, said Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn.
She added that her staff was waiting for a reply from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat. However, Ms Apiradi said she was confident the measure, recommended by the Council of State, could be carried out before the case expires.
Six former Commerce Ministry officials are believed to be linked to the allegedly fraudulent sales and will be asked to pay back to the state a total of B20 billion – an estimate calculated by the Finance Ministry – if the prime minister issues the order.
They are former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, his then-deputy Poom Sarapol, former secretary to the Commerce Ministry Weerawut Wajanaphukka, former Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) director-general Manas Soiploy, his then-deputy Tikhumporn Natvaratat and the DFT’s former director of foreign rice trade Akharapong Chuaikliang.
A total of 20 individuals and companies – including the six officials – face a Supreme Court trial in relation to the G2G rice sales to two Chinese trading companies, after the National Anti-Corruption Commission found neither company was authorised by Beijing to handle the deals.
Mr Boonsong, Mr Poom and Mr Manas were also impeached by the National Legislative Assembly last year, shortly after former prime minister Yingluck Shinwatra’s own impeachment over her alleged dereliction of duty regarding the rice-pledging policy.
Ms Yingluck too, may be asked to pay compensation under an administrative order instead of a civil suit, for allegedly failing to stop the corruption in the rice-pledging scheme. The statute of limitations in her case runs until May 2017.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Gen Prayut has signed the order demanding compensation from the men.
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