By Thai Newsroom Reporters
FORMER SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT & HUMAN Security minister Watana Muangsook was today (Mar.4) sentenced to 99 years in prison on kickback-taking charges involving government housing projects run over a decade ago.
The Supreme Court’s judges handling criminal lawsuits against politicians finally ruled Watana guilty of manipulating demands for payoffs in relation to Baan Aeu Arthorn housing projects implemented by the National Housing Authority during his time as social development & human security minister under the premiership of Thaksin Shinawatra between 2005 and 2006 and sentenced him to 99 years in jail.
The Supreme Court earlier handed out the 99-year prison term to Watana in 2020, prompting the former social development & human security minister to get himself released on a 10-million-baht bail, pending today’s appeal-based verdict which has remained unchanged.
Watana had been faced with the allegations that he had managed to have construction contractors provide hundreds of millions of baht in combined payoffs in exchange for being awarded housing projects under care of the government agency immediately responsive to him.
Apart from Watana, six other convicts associated with the former cabinet member were also found guilty of relevant bribery-taking charges and sentenced to varied jail terms.
Those convicts included an unlikely construction “consultant”, identified as Apichart “Sia Piang” Chansakulporn, otherwise known as a notorious rice dealer, who was given 66 years in prison and a fugitive singer-turned-ex MP Arisaman Pongruangrong who was sentenced to four years in jail.
Shortly after the 2014 coup orchestrated by army chief-turned-premier Prayut Chan-o-cha to depose the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, one of Thaksin’s sisters, Watana had conspicuously stood out against the military regime, been detained and interrogated by the ruling military at Bangkok’s army barracks several times.
Prior to the Social Development & Human Security portfolio, Watana had performed as industry minister and commerce minister during the Thaksin administration between 2003 and 2005.
The ex-Pheu Thai MP/ex-cabinet member married Patchara Jiaravanon, a niece of Charoen Pokphand tycoon Thanin Jiaravanon, and has three children.
Former social development & human security minister Watana Muangsook. Top photo: Naewna, Home Page photo: Matichon