Thai Corruption Agency Finds Yingluck Guilty in Rice Case

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission found former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra guilty of negligence for failing to stem losses from a state rice-subsidy program.

The decision was unanimous, with all seven commissioners saying Yingluck should have halted the program after being warned of losses that grew to an estimated 500 billion baht ($15.5 billion), Commissioner Vicha Mahakun told reporters in Bangkok. The commission will forward the opinion to the Office of the Attorney General, which could then file a suit with the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.

“The defendant, as prime minister, needs to suspend the program soon after acknowledging that there is corruption and losses from the program, but the defendant insisted on continuing the program, creating further losses,” Vicha said.

Yingluck already faces a possible five-year ban from politics after being forced to step down May 7, when the Constitutional Court found her guilty of abusing her power in the transfer of an official. The military ousted the rest of her government in a coup on May 22 following months of street protests by groups who accuse her family of crony capitalism, abuse of power and using populist policies to secure the support of rural voters.

The rice program, which paid farmers above-market rates for their crop to lift rural incomes, was one of the main election policies for Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party, and Yingluck led a committee that oversaw the initiative. She defended the program in February, saying it had raised farmers’ incomes and quality of life and that there was no “conspiracy” to allow corruption to occur.

Before today’s ruling, the military junta that now runs the country approved Yingluck’s request to travel to Europe from July 20 until August 10.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Blake in Bangkok at cblake28@bloomberg.net; Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net Tony Jordan, Mike Anderson

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