Former Thai PM Yingluck slapped with $1-billion fine

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yingluckThailand’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been presented a whopping 35.7-billion baht (around $1 billion) bill by the ruling military government as reparation for fiscal damages her flagship rice subsidy programme caused.

Yingluck, whose tenure ended with the 2014 coup, was charged with criminal negligence over the rice subsidy scheme and is now fighting the charges in court as the junta has ordered her assets to be seized.

The rice scheme was set up to guarantee farmers a price per tonne far over actual market prices, which was meant as a subsidy for the rural population, but in fact was also a populist policy to entice voters.

But it was also badly managed and prone to corruption and outright fraud. Naturally, the scheme racked up massive losses in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 harvest seasons – according to Thailand’s Auditor General no less than 178 billion baht ($5 billion), and Yingluck is seen as being liable for at least 20 per cent of this.

The government, meanwhile, is expected to seek compensation for the remaining 80 per cent from others allegedly responsible for the losses. There are currently graft probes on 850 other cases related to the rice scheme.

Yingluck labelled the punishment as “unfair and not just” and vowed to fight against it.

Observers see the $1 billion fine as largely symbolic. It is 66-times the the §17-million worth of assets Yingluck declared last year to the Auditor General. If she really was to pay the fine, her brother Thaksin will have to help her. His assets are estimated by Forbes at $1.67 billion as of October 2016.

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Reading Time: 1 minute

Thailand’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been presented a whopping 35.7-billion baht (around $1 billion) bill by the ruling military government as reparation for fiscal damages her flagship rice subsidy programme caused.

Reading Time: 1 minute

yingluckThailand’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been presented a whopping 35.7-billion baht (around $1 billion) bill by the ruling military government as reparation for fiscal damages her flagship rice subsidy programme caused.

Yingluck, whose tenure ended with the 2014 coup, was charged with criminal negligence over the rice subsidy scheme and is now fighting the charges in court as the junta has ordered her assets to be seized.

The rice scheme was set up to guarantee farmers a price per tonne far over actual market prices, which was meant as a subsidy for the rural population, but in fact was also a populist policy to entice voters.

But it was also badly managed and prone to corruption and outright fraud. Naturally, the scheme racked up massive losses in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 harvest seasons – according to Thailand’s Auditor General no less than 178 billion baht ($5 billion), and Yingluck is seen as being liable for at least 20 per cent of this.

The government, meanwhile, is expected to seek compensation for the remaining 80 per cent from others allegedly responsible for the losses. There are currently graft probes on 850 other cases related to the rice scheme.

Yingluck labelled the punishment as “unfair and not just” and vowed to fight against it.

Observers see the $1 billion fine as largely symbolic. It is 66-times the the §17-million worth of assets Yingluck declared last year to the Auditor General. If she really was to pay the fine, her brother Thaksin will have to help her. His assets are estimated by Forbes at $1.67 billion as of October 2016.

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