70 blacklisted rice mills allegedly in rice pledge scheme

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BANGKOK, July 12 – Seventy-seven blacklisted rice mills were permitted to participate in the government’s rice pledging scheme, it was disclosed by a House special committee considering the 2014 budget bill.

Watchara Petchthong, committee spokesman said he was assigned to inspect two rice mills in the central province of Sukhothai, formerly blacklisted, but they were later allowed to join the government’s rice scheme.

The rice mills obstructed the inspection. It is suspected that the rice mill owners and some government officials have shared vested interests.

Mr Watchara said the committee asked the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the Revenue Department and the Provincial Electricity Authority to probe financial transactions and power bills of the two rice mills since 2007 and to check whether there was rice stored in the warehouses or not.

The two rice mills probably cost losses of 642 million baht to the state, Mr Watchara said.