Yingluck’s Commerce Minister gets 42 years in prison over rice deal

The Supreme Court has sentenced a former Commerce Minister in the Yingluck government to 42 years in prison for corruption over rice export deals.

On 25 August 2017, the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions sentenced Boonsong Teriyapirom, a Commerce Minister in the Yingluck administration, to 42 years in prison while Poom Sarapol, his former deputy, received 36 years.

The two were accused of violating a 1999 law against price collusion for helping Chinese companies that did not represent the Chinese government to obtain government-to-government rice export deals under the Yingluck administration.

The court also sentenced Manas Soiploy, former director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade, to 40 years in prison, and his deputy Tikhumporn Natvaratat to 32 years, for their involvement in the deals.

Akharaphong Theepwatchara, former director of the Department's Rice Trade Administration Bureau, was sentenced to 24 years while Apichart Chansakulporn, an executive of Siam Indica Co. Ltd., the rice exporting company, got 48 years.

The court also ordered Siam Indica to pay 16.9 billion baht in damages to the Ministry of Finance.

Eight of the total of 28 accused were acquitted while the rest got jail term and were ordered to pay damages in proportion to their involvement in the rice deal.

In 2012, opposition Members of Parliament, led by the Democrat Party, accused the Yingluck administration of corruption over alleged irregularities in four government-to-government rice deals in which the government claimed to have sold rice to China-based Guangdong Stationery & Sporting Goods Import & Export Corp. and Hainan Grain and Oil Industrial Trading Company. The total rice exports to the two Chinese companies amounted to 67.7 billion baht.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission accused Boonsong and others of fabricating the deals with the Chinese firms, which were not acting on behalf of the Chinese government and which sold the rice back to Siam Indica.