11 July 2024

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana has instructed his legal advisors to take action against five individuals for allegedly discrediting him in connection with the state-run Krung Thai Bank’s controversial loan granted to the Krisda Mahanakorn Group over a decade ago, said Palang Pracharat deputy spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana on Thursday.

He warned Pheu Thai MPs to stop implicating Mr. Uttama in the loan controversy, claiming that the finance minister had already been cleared of any wrongdoing and the court had already imposed prison terms on several people who were directly involved in the controversy.

Thanakorn said that Mr. Uttama would give a clarification about the case on Friday as he branded the Pheu Thai party’s minutes of the bank’s board meeting, purportedly showing Mr. Uttama was among the board members who approved 8 billion baht loan to the Krisda Mahanakorn Group, as a fake.

During the debate in parliament on Thursday, Pheu Thai MP Cholnan Srikaew accused Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of ignoring ethical standards by appointing Mr. Uttama as finance minister despite his tainted background.

He said that all the people involved in approving the loan, except Mr. Uttama, had been indicted and convicted by the court. He suggested that someone might have given false testimony to the court that allowed Mr. Uttama to escape scot free.

Responding to Cholnan’s accusation, the finance minister said that the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Offices delivered its verdict on 25 defendants on August 26th, 2015.

He said it was a pity that some people tried to distort the facts to mislead the public into believing that he was involved in the controversy in order to discredit him and to disqualify him from being appointed as a minister. He promised to clarify the matter in parliament tomorrow.

Uttama earlier claimed he objected to the board’s decision to grant the loan on the grounds that they could not approve the loan. The Opposition has demanded that he shows the document to prove his non-involvement.

The loan controversy dates back to 2003 when Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister.  7 people, including Thaksin, were charged in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Posts.

Two were acquitted and the rest were given prison sentences of 12 to 18 months.  The trial of Thaksin was dropped because he fled the country and a warrant was subsequently issued for his arrest.