BANGKOK – An anti-corruption body on Thursday recommended criminal charges against Thailand’s ousted prime minister over her government’s rice subsidy program, which cost the country billions of dollars.
National Anti-Corruption Commissioner Vicha Mahakun said the commission voted unanimously that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra committed dereliction of duty for failing to stop the program, a flagship policy of her administration.
“The defendant insisted on continuing the rice subsidy, causing further damages to the state, even though she had the direct authority to stop or cancel the government’s rice scheme to prevent more corruption and losses, which is considered the biggest loss to the country,” Vicha said.
The commission had already ruled in May that Yingluck was liable for impeachment because her government’s rice policy was prone to corruption and massive losses. That decision came one day after she was ousted by a court over alleged abuse of power. The military seized power in a coup later that month.
Vicha said the commission will forward the case to prosecutors next week for indictment by the country’s Supreme Court for political office-holders.
The rice subsidy program, which paid the farmers double the market price, helped Yingluck’s government win votes in the 2011 general election, but it accumulated losses of at least $4.4 billion and also cost Thailand its position as the world’s leading rice exporter for two years.