Amid social media furore, NACC ‘ready to probe’ new allegations.
IT NEVER rains but it pours for Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan. While he has yet to clarify his possession of a seemingly multimillion-baht watch, social media users have raised questions about seven other watches he is seen wearing at recent events.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which is investigating the premier’s respected senior aide, yesterday said that it was ready to probe any new allegations.
Deputy PM and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan is seen wearing what look like different models of multimillion-baht Richard Mille watches on two separate occasions. The black-and-red model, left, was spotted during a scholarship granting event in September. The silver-and-black model, right, was seen during a Cabinet photo opportunity on December 4.
“We have to look through his asset-declaration history and see if he has already declared those watches,” said NACC acting secretary-general Worawit Sukboon yesterday.
In his four declarations during his off-and-on membership of governments from 2008 to 2014, Prawit has never declared any single asset worth more than Bt200,000 to the NACC. His latest declaration valued his total total assets at Bt87 million.
However, pictures show him wearing what look like two Richard Mille watches that are estimated to cost between Bt4 million and Bt10 million. The first watch was spotted when he took part in a group photo with the reshuffled Cabinet at Government House December 4.
A photo of him shielding his eyes with his hand, revealing the silver-black watch and a diamond ring, sparked controversy.
The second watch was revealed yesterday when the Facebook page CSI LA posted photos of Prawit back in September during a Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation event he hosted.
Giving away compensation and scholarships with a smiling face, Prawit was seen wearing what could be a different Richard Mille watch model with a red and black body.
The page’s author speculated that the model might be the Richard Mille RM 030, which normally costs around Bt4 million.
The Matter, the alternative news agency, on Tuesday also presented photos of Prawit on nine occasions from 2014 to this year wearing different watches. Although the definition of the photos was limited, three of the watches could be the same while the rest looked distinct.
The Matter asked its followers to help identify the watches and their guesses centred on high-end brands such as Patek Philippe, Franck Muller, Audemars Piguet and Rolex, with prices ranging from Bt700,000 to Bt2 million.
Prawit has kept mum on the issue since the day he was discovered wearing the extravagant watch last week.
Yesterday, without speaking to the press, he went to receive an honorary doctorate degree in public administration from Nakhon Phanom University.
He had also stressed shortly after the controversy began that he would only explain his possession of the watch to the NACC, not the public.
Local media reported that Prawit planned to justify himself by saying that the watch was borrowed from a businessman friend and the diamond ring was inherited from his mother.
He had planned to send an explanatory letter to the NACC yesterday, but he has not yet done so.
The NACC said last Thursday that Prawit would have 30 days to justify himself.