NACC member rules out double standard in rice graft probe


BANGKOK, Feb 26 – The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has rejected charges of double standards in its investigation of alleged corruption in the government’s rice pledging scheme.

NACC member Vicha Mahakhun said the investigation was jointly conducted by all NACC members, and emphasised that they could never be influenced by anyone to be biased.

He was referring to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s statement on her Facebook page, questioning the NACC’s transparency and neutrality investigating her role in the rice scheme.

The NACC has summoned Ms Yingluck to acknowledge corruption charges tomorrow, in her capacity as chairperson of the National Rice Policy Committee.

Mr Vicha said the prime minister would be required to personally acknowledge the charges but she could postpone it if necessary.

If she fails to show up, the NACC will mail the accusation documents to her, and she can explain in writing or verbally, he said.

Mr Vicha ruled out any NACC double standards in the case against the current government and an earlier case regarding the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s rice guarantee programme.

Investigation of the government-to-government rice deal by the Yingluck government began in December 2012 which is more than a year ago, not only 21 days as alleged by the Pheu Thai Party, he said.

He said the NACC’s investigation of the Abhisit government’s rice guarantee has been delayed due to insufficient evidence despite the NACC’s repeated requests for documents from related government agencies.

The NACC was always told by government agencies that the required documents on the government’s rice stocks in 2009 and 2010 (in the Abhisit government) were damaged and lost in the massive 2011 floods, said Mr Vicha.

He said the NACC would conclude its investigation, as demanded by the Pheu Thai Party and make public, calling on the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship to stop pressuring the NACC.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the party’s legal team was wrapping up a petition requesting the NACC to remove Mr Vicha from the rice corruption case.

He said Mr Vicha was charged with prejudice and double standards in the corruption charges against Ms Yingluck.

The next move is to seek endorsements from 20,000 people to lodge a complaint with the Senate president to remove Mr Vicha from the NACC, he said.