Thai authorities have frozen bank accounts belonging to ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who faces a possible fine of U.S. $1 billion and conviction over a failed rice scheme during her administration, government officials and her lawyer said Tuesday.
Without offering an explanation Finance Ministry officials told reporters that they had frozen seven of Yingluck’s accounts and planned to freeze another five.
“We will proceed as per the request with 10-year statute of limitation,” said Reunrudee Suwanmongkol, director of the ministry’s legal department. She declined to disclose the amount of money held in the accounts, citing confidentiality of the legal proceedings.
The ministry undertook the move while the 50-year-old Yingluck, Thailand’s first female prime minister whose net worth is valued at about U.S. $17 million, stands trial on charges of negligence in the rice-subsidy scheme.
Apart from the billion-dollar fine, she faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of negligence for allegedly failing to stop graft related to the rice scheme. A verdict is due out on Aug. 25.
Yingluck’s lawyer told reporters on Tuesday that authorities had locked seven accounts with Bangkok Bank out of his client’s 12 bank accounts.
Yingluck turned to social media on Tuesday, describing the pre-verdict freezing of her accounts as a “judicial misguidance.”
“The move reflects an attempt to judicially misguide the Supreme Court’s verdict of the rice scheme trial prematurely,” Yingluck told her 6 million Facebook followers. She said she was innocent of the charges.
A legal expert told BenarNews that the freezing of Yingluck’s accounts was aimed at preventing her from transferring her money elsewhere ahead of the verdict.
Full story: BenarNews
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