Thailand: Yingluck escapes prosecution over rice scheme… for now
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Thailand: Yingluck escapes prosecution over rice scheme… for now

Thailand’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said Thursday that there is not enough evidence to indict former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for dereliction of duty relating to Thailand’s botched rice pledging scheme.

In July, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) unanimously found Yingluck “guilty of negligence” in connection with the scheme, which was run under her government. It said the former Prime Minister had failed to deal with corruption in the scheme, leading to losses of 500 billion baht (US$15.6 billion).

The OAG refused to accept the NACC’s recommendation Thursday, but called for a joint panel with the NACC to re-investigate the case, suggesting that the former PM is not off the hook just yet.

The Bangkok Post reports:

[OAG spokesman] Wanchai said the OAG has informed the NACC that its investigation was inadequate, and the two agencies are scheduled to appoint representatives to a joint committee to gather stronger evidence within the next two weeks. There is no timeframe for the committee to complete its work, and it is unclear how long it might take, Mr Wanchai said.

Mr Wanchai said if the case is to be forwarded to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, it must be clear beyond doubt where in the process the corruption took place, when it took place and who was involved.

The pledging scheme sought to manipulate world markets while boosting government popularity by paying rice farmers above market rates for their crops. In the end the scheme backfired, saddling the government with massive debts and leaving thousands of farmers unpaid.

Yingluck, the younger sister of self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, stepped down as PM in early May after Thailand’s Constitutional Court found her guilty of abuse of power. The move came after almost six months of anti-government protests and was followed by a military coup on May 22.

The OAG’s decision was welcomed by Yingluck’s legal team Thursday.