Politics, World, Asia - Pacific

Ex Thai PM told to pay $997 million over subsidy scheme

Ruling junta had sought to seize Yingluck Shinawatra's assets to repay debt accrued under gov't rice scheme

21.10.2016
Ex Thai PM told to pay $997 million over subsidy scheme

Banghok

By Arun Saronchai

BANGKOK

Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has confirmed that she has been ordered by the ruling junta to pay 35 billion-baht ($997 million) in damages for a rice subsidy plan, but has pledged to fight the charge.

Talking to reporters outside a Bangkok courthouse Friday, Shinawatra said she had received an order two days earlier ordering her assets to be seized. 

"This is not justice," she said tearfully. "We will pursue all legal avenues to appeal this."

She has 45 days to appeal the order.

The order, signed by Deputy Finance Minister Wisudhi Srisuphan and permanent secretary Somchai Sujjapongse on Oct. 13, details allegations and losses of hundreds of millions of dollars that occurred from the scheme.

It demands the money be paid within 30 days, but allows the right to appeal within 90 if Shinawatra does not agree.

Shinawatra is also facing criminal charges of negligence and malfeasance with regard to the scheme -- launched in October 2011 as part of her Pheu Thai party election promise -- along with other members of her cabinet.

Prime minister-cum-junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha -- whose military deposed Shinawatra's government in a 2014 coup -- had previously said he would seize Shinawatra's assets to repay some of the debt accrued.

Shortly after the coup, Shinawatra was impeached and banned from politics for five years. 

The scheme -- which allegedly saw farmers paid overly high rates for their rice -- is reported to have resulted in 554 billion in losses for Thailand.

Shinawatra, however, has called it "a public policy, which aimed to help farmers". 

Forbes estimates Shinawatra’s family’s net worth at $1.67 billion.

Her elder brother is telecommunications magnate and junta nemesis Thaksin Shinawatra -- an overthrown ex PM who now lives in exile.

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