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Wednesday
Feb192014

Thai PM charged for corruption in rice-buying scheme

Yingluck Shinawatra has been prime minister of Thailand since August 5, 2011 (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)Thailand's anti-corruption body said Tuesday it filed charges against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for irregularities in the government's rice-buying scheme.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission said it summoned the prime minister to appear to face the charges on February 27, according to a report by Reuters.

"Although she knew that many people had warned about corruption in the scheme, she still continued with it. That shows her intention to cause losses to the government so we have unanimously agreed to charge her," Vicha Mahakhun, a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, said in a statement.

Yingluck is head of the National Rice Committee.

Her government has been buying farmers' rice crops for the past two years at prices up to 50% higher than world prices.

To pay the farmers, the government has been trying to sell rice overseas.

Earlier this month, China cancelled a deal to buy 1.2 million tons of rice after Thailand launched the corruption probe into the program.

The Thai government hasn't paid some rice farmers for their crops since October.

Yingluck campaigned on the rice-subsidy to win support from the rural north. She created the program when she took office in 2011.

Protests against Yingluck's government started late last year.

Three civilians and a policeman were killed Tuesday in Bangkok and 60 more people were injured when police tried to clear anti-government protesters.

If the National Anti-Corruption Commission send the rice-buying case to the Senate for possible impeachment, Yingluck will face immediate suspension until the Senate completes her trial, an NPR report said.

Because of the political instability, Yingluck's government hasn't been able to borrow money from banks to rescue the sinking rice scheme.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.