BANGKOK — A top court on Thursday ordered the Future Forward Party leader to cease working as an MP while it hears a request to strip him of political office.
In a 9-0 ruling, the Constitutional Court agreed to take up a complaint filed against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit by the Election Commission, which accused him of breaching election laws by owning shares in a media firm. He faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
The court also ruled 8-1 to suspend Thanathorn’s MP status indefinitely while the judges deliberate the case. The statement released by the court did not mention when a verdict will be reached.
The announcement means Thanathorn will miss his first appearance as a lawmaker at Friday’s inauguration of the new parliament. The Future Forward Party is expected to comment on the ruling in a news conference scheduled for 7pm.
In its complaint, the Election Commission alleged the tycoon-turned-politician still held 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media Company after registering as an MP candidate – an action outlawed by Section 98 of the Constitution.
Thanathorn, a former tycoon who had previously never held political office, has vehemently denied the allegations. The 40-year-old said he relinquished his stakes in January, well before he registered as an MP candidate on February 6.
However, V-Luck Media only removed Thanathorn’s name as a shareholder on March 21, just three days prior to the election.
If found guilty, Thanathorn would be disqualified from parliament and barred from entering politics for a maximum of 20 years. He would also face a jail term of up to 10 years.