Court orders ex-commerce minister Boonsong and associates to pay ฿14.7bn compensation over rice deal scandal
Today (Monday), Thailand’s Central Administrative Court ordered former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom, former deputy commerce minister Poom Saraphol, and three former senior commerce officials, to pay the state 14.723 billion baht in compensation, for damage caused by the non-existent government-to-government (G2G) rice deal during the administration of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
In dismissing the five’s petition to stay the execution of an order by the Ministry of Commerce, for the five of them to pay the compensation, the court ruled that they deliberately committed irregular actions, in collusion with the private sector, to cause damage to the state, by selling rice at below market prices and by arbitrarily changing the terms of payment, which were not in line with (G2G) rice transactions.
The court also ruled that the rice, which was supposed to be exported under the G2G deal, was actually sold in the domestic market, resulting in unfair competition.
The court ordered the five men to pay compensation as follows:
- ฿011bn by Manas Soithong, former director-general of Foreign Trade Department
- ฿011bn by Tikumporn Nartvoratat, former deputy director-general of Foreign Trade Department
- ฿242bn by Poom Saraphol, former deputy commerce minister
- ฿768bn by former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom
- ฿694bn by Akkarapong Teepwatchara, former director of Foreign Trade Office
In the case of Akkarapong, the court found that he had served as an interpreter for the first two contracts in the rice deal, and was directly involved in the third and fourth contracts. As such, the court reduced the compensation payment, from 4.011 billion baht to 2.94 billion.
The massive corruption in the G2G rice deal was one of the core issues for the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, during its prolonged protests between November 2013 and May 2014, attempting to topple the government of then Prime Minister Yingluck.