EC to send case against 4 ministers to court

The four incumbent and former ministers facing disqualification are: (clockwise) former Prime Minister's Office minister ML Panadda Diskul, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, Education Minister Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin and Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn. (Bangkok Post file photos)

The Election Commission has voted to ask the Constitutional Court to decide whether three incumbent ministers and a former minister should be disqualified for conflict of interest.

Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin and former Prime Minister's Office minister ML Panadda Diskul were found to have shares in companies that operate on state concessions, a prohibition under Section 186 and 184 of the 2017 Constitution.

By law, the EC must look into the case and decide whether to send it to the Constitutional Court for a ruling.

EC president Ittiporn Boonpracong said on Friday the EC had voted to send the case to the court. He declined to reveal whether the vote was unanimous.

"In making the decision, we took into account past court rulings and its reasons. For similar cases which are not exactly the same, we thought it best to let the court decide," he said.

Mr Ittiporn declined to say whether the case was similar to the one faced by Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai earlier, saying each case had different facts, which may or may not be the same.

Earlier, Ruangkrai Leekitwattana of Pheu Thai Party filed a petition with the EC, asking it to consider the case based on the asset declarations of the ministers.

In his petition, he claims ML Panadda had 6,000 shares of Airports of Thailand Plc, operator of Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and other airports. Although ML Panadda no longer was a minister, a guilty ruling means he will be banned from holding office for two years.

Mr Suvit had 90,000 shares of Global Power Synergy Plc (GPSC), a holding company of power-generation subsidiaries of PTT Plc, who holds state energy concessions.

Mr Pailin, a former CEO of PTT Plc, also had 5,000 shares in energy giant PTT Plc and more in its subsidiaries — GPSC (50,000 shares), IRPC Plc (240,000), PTT Global Chemical Plc (60,000) and Thai Oil (40,000). He also had shares in three other companies — Gulf Energy Development (300,000 shares), Banpu Power (10,000) and Intouch Holding (26,000).

Dr Teerakiat had 5,000 shares of Siam Cement Plc.

Last year, Mr Don also faced a disqualification after his wife was found to have more than 5% of shares in a private company and failed to inform the National Anti-Corruption Commission within 30 days. The EC also voted to send his case to the court, which cleared him in late October.

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