Ex-KTB president jailed for malfeasance in office

Viroj Nuankae was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 years in jail for malfeasance in office by the Supreme Court for approving huge loans to subsidiary firms of an ineligible real estate developer when he was president of Krungthai Bank. The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions ruled that Viroj and 18 other defendants were guilty of wrongfully approving more than 9.9 billion baht in loans to affiliates of developer Krisdamahanakorn, even though the firm was listed with the bank as a non-performing debtor.

Former bank executive board chairman Suchai Jaovisidha was also sentenced to 18 years by the court. The ruling ended the long-running case. The Office of the Attorney-General indicted 27 people, including Viroj and Suchai, on June 13, 2012. Named as the first defendant was Thaksin Shinawatra, who was prime minister at the time the loans were approved in 2003 and 2004. The court will not make a ruling on Thaksin until he is back in Thailand. The court issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin, a fugitive living overseas, after he failed to report to the court for indictment in 2012.

All defendants were accused of malfeasance in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, the law on offences committed by officials of state-run agencies, the Commercial Banks Act, the Securities and Exchange Act, and the Public Companies Act.

The case was jointly investigated by the Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) set up after the 2006 coup, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the OAG. The NACC accused Thaksin of damaging the economy by allowing the bank to issue the loans when he administered the country.

The ASC, set up after the coup in 2006 that ousted Thaksin, alleged that the money had been transferred to his associates, but the argument was dropped in the indictment. The offences occurred in 2003. Thaksin led his then-Thai Rak Thai Party to victory in the general election in 2001. After the judgement was passed, Viroj, Suchai and the other men found guilty were taken to Bangkok Special Remand Prison, and the convicted women to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution, Corrections Department vehicles that had been waiting at the court.

Bangkok Special Remand Prison commander Ayut Sinthopphan confirmed that all 16 male offenders, some looking stressed, had arrived at the prison. They were going through routine processing, filling out personal details forms and health examinations. Viroj, Suchai and two other inmates serving 18 years in jail will later be transferred to Klongprem Central Prison, which was built for prisoners serving long sentences, he added.