Court throws out Viroj's BoT lawsuit

The Administrative Court yesterday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Viroj Nualkhair against the Bank of Thailand for abuse of authority. Judge Prasak Siripanich said the central bank had acted within its legal authority in disqualifying Mr Viroj from taking a second term as president of Krung Thai Bank.

''While Mr Viroj had the right to file the suit as the injured party of the actions taken by the defendants, the court cannot rule for the petitioner and dismisses the suit,'' Judge Prasak said in the ruling.

''The actions of the central bank were in line with its legal authority, and Mr Viroj did in fact lack qualifications and was suitably blacklisted for his actions.''

Mr Viroj, who served as KTB president from 2001 to 2004, sought damages of more than 200 million baht in his case against the central bank and then-governor M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula.

In October 2004, the central bank blacklisted Mr Viroj from working at any local financial institution due to allegations of improper lending during his first term at KTB.

Mr Viroj alleged that the central bank order had damaged his reputation and opportunities to work in the financial sector. The suit sought compensation of 51.23 million baht and interest of 7.5% for lost revenue, as well as additional damages of 150 million for the damage to his reputation.

But the court agreed with testimony filed by the central bank that Mr Viroj, when serving as KTB president, had overseen loans that subsequently turned bad, worth 23 billion baht.

The loans were approved under questionable circumstances and insufficient controls, and thus were the direct responsibility of senior bank management.

The court said Mr Viroj's argument that he had helped the bank improve its performance during his term did not mitigate responsibility for the losses incurred due to the bad loans.

The ruling also noted that while the KTB board had voted to reappoint Mr Viroj, no formal contract had been made and thus KTB was not liable for damages.

Mr Viroj yesterday declined to comment directly on the case or whether he would file an appeal against the judgment with the Supreme Administrative Court.

The bad loans in question included funds lent to the property developer Krisdamahanakorn and the auto manufacturer Thonburi Assembly.

The central bank in February 2005 charged Mr Viroj with possible fraud and other banking violations related to the loans, and the case remains pending with the National Counter Corruption Commission.

From : The BKK Post
By : PLA
Date : Nov 30, 2006

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