6 June 2024

The Election Commission does not need to present evidence that Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit lent money to his Future Forward Party, as he had admitted to that himself. The case, therefore, features the EC’s insistence that the loans were not constitutionally and legally allowed and Future Forward’s argument that the transactions were honest and necessary.

 

Here are accusations and defence argument in details:

What the accusers say: It is against the law for Future Forward to borrow from Thanathorn, because the legal and constitutional wills seek to safeguard against any particular person or group that wants to use financial influences to assert control over political parties, which are supposed to serve the public, not vested interests. This is why the law clearly limits how parties can get or earn their money.

What the party says: Future Forward was a newly-born political camp, and it was clear the party could not cover all expenses without borrowing from Thanathorn. It was an honest transaction, with the party duly intending to completely pay back as agreed in the contracts. Moreover, the loans constitute an “expense” in Future Forward’s book, not an “income” as alleged. Other parties must be receiving money from influential outsiders but it is well covered up, and it is badly ironic that Future Forward’s intention to be transparent about it, which led to Thanathorn’s unforced admission, is putting the party in legal jeopardy.

Is it “income” or “expense”? Loans are a liability and any business student should know that, Future Forward insists. It says what it received from Thanathorn led to expense, as the party needs to pay back what it borrowed from him, plus interests. The accusers argue that while normal borrowing is a liability, “fake” loans are an illegal way of channeling money into a party’s account, in which case a fabricated loan can be tantamount to an illegal income.

If the law does not mention it, how could it be unlawful? Future Forward asks the accusers to point at any legal statement that specifically or unequivocally prohibits a party from borrowing from its leader. The accusers say there are two types of laws _ one of them only spells out what can be done, leaving it unsaid that what can be done is the scope beyond which activities become illegal. The other type of law only lists prohibitions. The accusers are adamant that the law governing political parties is the first type, and it lists what political parties can do to get money _ seven ways to be exact and borrowing is none of them.

What the Election Commission wants: A lot of documents. In other words, the EC demands to see details of Future Forward’s income. This is apparently part of an attempt to establish a clear picture of Future Forward’s financial status and whether the party is financially capable of paying back the loans. The EC is adamant that this demand and time given Future Forward to comply are realistic.

 Why Future Forward describes EC’s demand as impossible: The party insists that it needs more than two weeks to provide details of its daily or weekly earnings. The December 2nd deadline is unrealistic because what the EC wants requires a lot of sieving through essential papers. The EC’s decision not to extend the deadline is “persecution”, which the party is prepared to launch legal action against.

Possible penalties: If Future Forward is found guilty of undertaking an illegal financial affair, its executives can be banned from politics for five years and cases could be pursued by other legal authorities so jail times are likely. At the moment, 11 out of 16 of Future Forward executives are MPs, so such a political ban would reduce the number of the party’s MPs to 69. If the EC decides that the loans were in fact a “donation” from Thanathorn, the “borrowed” money can be seized except for Bt10 million, which is the legal limit of one person’s donation to a party.

Will the party be dissolved? The law says nothing about party dissolution if a party receives unlawful donation from a Thai national.