Ex-commerce minister, 16 accomplices facing rice fraud charges


BANGKOK, Jan 16 – Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) unanimously agreed today to press charges against former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, his deputy Poom Sarapol and 15 people in connection with rice trading fraud.

Vicha Mahakhun, a NACC member, said the government-to-government (G-to-G) rice deals were fraudulent and the group also committed offences concerning the revenue tax.

The Commerce Ministry under Mr Boonsong claimed that rice purchased from farmers under the rice pledging scheme was sold overseas on G-to-G basis but an investigation found that rice trading companies had paid the Foreign Trade Department for their purchases.

“The purchased rice was not exported. There were no G-to-G rice deals as claimed,” said Mr Vicha.

He said the NACC resolved to pursue investigation against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in her capacity as chairperson of the National Rice Policy Committee, for negligence and failure to stop the deals despite her awareness of the damages.