Yingluck may get $19.6 billion bill over rice losses: Prayut

Damages to be sought from former PM Yingluck Shinawatra over her government's rice-pledging scheme may exceed Bt500 billion ($19.6 billion), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday.

He said the estimated loss of Bt500 billion was "just an initial figure", adding the final amount would depend on the quality of rice in government stocks.

"If the rice cannot be sold, the figure will be higher. If we can sell more, the loss will be lower," he told reporters.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the civil claims would be finalised by two fact-finding committees of the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Finance by the end of this month.

After the panels complete their work, the case will be forwarded to Prime Minister Prayut for review, and then a government civil liability committee chaired by the comptroller-general will consider the final amount of damages to be sought from Yingluck.

Wissanu said that once a damages claim is made, the accused person normally is expected to counter-sue the government by bringing their case to the Administrative Court within 30 days challenging the government's claim.

He added that if the accused person, in this case Yingluck, did not counter-sue, their assets equivalent to the amount finalised by the civil liability committee would be seized.

In response to speculation that the civil liability committee will seek damages of Bt500 billion from Yingluck and Bt10 billion from her former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Wissanu declined to elaborate.

Meanwhile, Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said relevant cases were being reviewed by the court.