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Thailand - Officials involved in Bt5-bn rice scam
The Nation (Thailand), February 17, 2004
The Agriculture Ministry has busted a scam in which government officials and rice exporters are believed to have siphoned off Bt5 billion destined for poor farmers.

"Raids on two rice warehouses in Phichit confirmed the conspiracy to abuse the rice pledging scheme," said Agriculture Minister Somsak Thepsuthin yesterday, referring to the government`s intervention initiative to boost paddy prices.

He said rice meant for export had been resold to the government in order to qualify for subsidy payments meant for farmers.
In the raids, led by Somsak, 300,000 sacks, or about 30,000 tonnes, of rice were found to have been repeatedly sold to the government since 2001.

Somsak said the evidence of fraud in Phichit was just the tip of iceberg as the scam was also suspected to have taken place in Kamphaeng Phet, Phetchabun, Phitsanulok and Uttaradit.

"I vow to get to the bottom of the matter as I suspect the involvement of rogue officials and exporters, including the country?s largest rice exporting company," he said.

Based on the findings of the raids, two rice mills, Siam Kasikij and Phichit Ruamcharoen 2, were contracted by the Marketing Organisation for Farmers (MOF) to store the government rice stockpile.
Rice exporter President Co bought the 30,000 tonnes of rice from the MOF, but instead of shipping it to foreign markets, resold the rice back to the government twice a year in order to qualify for subsidy payments.
MGR Archive 17.2.2004
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