Former Thailand PM Yingluck to face criminal charge over rice subsidy scheme

Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra leaving after answering to the questions of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) during impeachment proceedings against her, at Parliament House in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan 22, 2015. Ms Yingluck
Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra leaving after answering to the questions of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) during impeachment proceedings against her, at Parliament House in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan 22, 2015. Ms Yingluck will also be indicted on a criminal corruption charge over her controversial rice subsidy scheme, a senior prosecutor said on Friday, a prospect that could see her jailed for up to 10 years. -- PHOTO: EPA

BANGKOK (AFP/Reuters) - Former Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra will be indicted on a criminal corruption charge over her controversial rice subsidy scheme, a senior prosecutor said on Friday, a prospect that could see her jailed for up to 10 years.

“The Attorney General’s Office has considered witnesses and evidence submitted by the working team along with all witnesses and evidence from the National Anti-Corruption Committee and we agree that the case substantiates a criminal indictment charge against Yingluck,” said Mr Surasak Threerattrakul, Director-General of the Office of the Attorney General.

Ms Yingluck will face the charge in Thailand’s Supreme Court, Mr Surasak told reporters on Friday.

If found guilty, she would face a maximum of 10 years' jail.

The announcement comes just hours before the country’s military-appointed legislature is scheduled to vote in a separate impeachment case against Ms Yingluck for failing to exercise sufficient oversight over the scheme.

If found guilty by the junta-stacked parliament hearing her impeachment case, she faces a five-year ban from politics – a move that already risks reigniting the country’s bitter divisions.

Prosecutors had spent months deciding whether Ms Yingluck should also face separate criminal corruption charges over the scheme that purchased rice from farmers at around twice the market rate – a policy that has led to huge unsold stockpiles as regional competitors undercut Thailand’s exports.

Mr Surasak said the indictment is expected in early March.