Thailand: EC decides to take action against Thanathorn

  • Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party, may face a jail term up to 10 years and a 20-year ban from politics over his media shareholding now that the Election Commission (EC) has decided to pursue criminal charges against him.
  • The EC resolved on 10 Mar 20 to take criminal action against the former auto-parts tycoon for “applying to be an MP candidate knowing he was not qualified” under Section 151 of the 2018 MP Election Act. The penalties for the offence are a jail term from 1-10 years, a fine of THB20,000-200,000 and a ban from politics for 20 years.
  • The Constitutional Court disqualified him as MP on 20 Nov 19, ruling that on 6 Feb 19, the date the party submitted to the EC the list of its party-list MP candidates, Mr Thanathorn was still in possession of shares in V-Luck Media company.
  • After the court ruling, the EC office submitted the case for its commissioners to consider pursuing criminal charges against him as required by law at least three times. Each time, the office was told to get more proof that clearly showed that, when Mr Thanathorn applied, he was fully aware he was not qualified as a candidate.
  • The EC said Mr Thanathorn’s case was not the only one it has taken up.
  • Another MP candidate, whom the EC did not name, was found to have been member of a party less than the required 90 days before the election. He will also be charged.
  • In addition to the media-shareholding case, the Constitutional Court on 21 Feb 20 found Mr Thanathorn guilty of giving money or other benefits worth more than THB10mn to his party. The EC will be required to take criminal action against him. If found guilty, he could be jailed for another five years.
  • If he is convicted by the Criminal Court in the media-shareholding case, it remains unclear at this stage how the new ban will affect the existing one since there has been no legal precedent. If it is added to the existing ban, he will be 71 when he will be able to run as MP again.

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