Two accomplices in fake G-to-G rice deals given heavy prison sentences
The former secretary to convicted commerce minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom was today sentenced to 72 years in prison by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Public Offices. He was convicted on corruption charges related to the fake government-to-government rice deals between the Thai Foreign Trade Department and two fraudulent Chinese state firms.
The court found Dr. Veeravuth Watjanapukka, aka Dr. Tong, guilty on four counts of corruption and handed him four consecutive 18 year terms in prison, totaling 72 years. However, he will serve only 50 years because the maximum combined sentence for all convictions must not exceed 50 years.
The other accomplice in the scandal ridden rice deals, Mr. Suthee Chermthaisong, a former aide to the well-known former rice trader Mr. Apichart Chansakulporn, alias Sia Piang, was sentenced by the court to 32 years in prison after he was convicted for similar offences.
Mr. Suthee was also ordered to pay the state about 16.9 billion baht in compensation.
Mr. Suthee and Dr. Veeravuth represent the second-tier of players in the massive corruption concerning the huge unsold rice stocks bought by the government of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra under the rice pledging scheme, supposedly to help rice farmers secure prices higher than prevailing market prices.
Key first-tier players, who include former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom, former deputy commerce minister Poom Saraphol and Apichart Chansakulporn, were also sentenced to heavy prison terms by the Supreme Court a few years ago. Apichart, however, jumped bail before his conviction and is now at on the run.
The rice purchased under the fake G-to-G deals with Chinese state firms was supposed to be directly exported to China. In reality, however, no rice was exported, but instead it was diverted and resold to Thai rice millers and exporters.
The bulk of the rice was left to rot in warehouses and finally sold by the Prayut government at fire-sale prices.