Arrest warrants out for 3 suspects in Phichit rice fraud

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PHICHIT, June 26 – Phichit Provincial Court on Wednesday approved arrest warrants for three persons allegedly involved in the disappearance of paddy from a warehouse.

Phichit provincial police deputy commander Pol Col Thawatchai Muannara said the three suspects were the owner of a rice mill, the managing director and a staff member. The three were charged with cheating farmers in the provincial seat, as well as Bang Mun Nak and Pho Thale districts.

Col Thawatchai said the accused rice mill did not deliver 4,000 tonnes of paddy worth nearly Bt50 million to the Marketing Organisation for Farmers (MOF), but the paddy disappeared from the warehouse.

Farmers in this central province earlier filed complaints with police, charging the rice mill with cheating them in its purchase of 4,000 tonnes of paddy.

They said they sold their paddy to the mill under the government’s rice pledging scheme but have yet to receive payment. They were only given papers certifying the total weight of paddy delivered to the rice mill. Each farmer incurred losses of Bt100,000-Bt500,000.

Police are also investigating another case of 7,200 tonnes of paddy in which another rice mill failed to deliver to the marketing agency.

It will take a couple of days to complete the investigation and police will ask the court to issue an arrest warrant for accomplices in the case.

Phichit governor Chakkarin Plienwong today also called a meeting with a provincial rice sub-committee to clarify the incident with 130 farmers.

He urged the farmers to file police complaints against the rice mill who cheated them in a 2,000 tonne rice purchase.

For farmers who became victims of the rice mills, the governor said, the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) will suspend their debt payment period for one year and will consider granting them additional loans for planting.