THAILAND - The national anti-graft agency yesterday resolved to examine the assets of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and four other members of her Cabinet involved in her government's loss-making and corruption-plagued rice price-pledging scheme.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has assigned one of its nine commissioners, Narong Rathamarit, to head the subcommittee responsible for the investigation, the agency said in a press release.
In addition to Yingluck, three of her commerce ministers, Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, Boonsong Teriyapirom and Yanyong Phuangrach, and her deputy commerce minister, Phum Saraphol, will also be targeted, according to the NACC.
In early May, the NACC unanimously resolved to indict Yingluck for allegedly having intent to exercise power against the Constitution concerning the rice scheme. She will face impeachment and a five-year ban from politics if the Senate agrees with the NACC.
The anti-graft agency is also investigating alleged criminal offence of dereliction of duty against Yingluck.
The panel's investigation may also cover people close to the five former government ministers if they are found to have connections with the rice scheme, according to Worawit Sukboon, deputy secretary general of the NACC.
He said that former members of the Yingluck Cabinet who vacated their positions on May 7 and May 22 had until yesterday and June 20 respectively to submit to the NACC their latest financial statements. He expected information about the former Cabinet members to be available publicly in early July.
Five former Cabinet members have yet to submit reports about their assets and debts to the NACC, according to Worawit.
They are Yingluck, former social development and human security minister Santi Promphat, former deputy prime minister and finance minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, and former deputy premiers Pracha Promnok and Plodprasop Suraswadi.
If they fail to meet the deadline, those ex-ministers need to explain why in writing to the NACC, which will then determine whether their arguments are reasonable or whether it is their intent to try and conceal their assets, according to Worawit.
In response to social media calls for the NACC to examine the assets of ruling junta members, Worawit said that existing laws did not require that, so the agency had no authority to do so.