PHEU Thai Party has petitioned the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to confiscate General Prawit Wongsuwan’s wristwatches and a diamond ring, and to probe whether his acquisition of the luxury assets was lawful.
The party’s legal officer, Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, yesterday demanded that the NACC notify Prawit about the matter, or enforce its authority and confiscate the assets before probing whether the acquisition was lawful.
Prawit should actually be straightforward and disclose his assets rather than have the media expose them, Ruangkrai said.
The Pheu Thai lawyer said the NACC had probed former PM Yingluck Shinawatra when she was seen wearing a Bt2.5-million watch, as well as another 500 cases involving political office holders. It should, therefore, be able to undertake a similar scrutiny in the case involving Prawit, he insisted.
NACC president Pol General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit in a separate interview insisted that the thorough investigation would not be overly influenced by any one commissioner.
Watcharapol said the commissioners had agreed that their decision-making process must be straightforward and transparent, as the issue involved public interest.
He said he was not worried about anything, as the NACC resolution on the matter would be passed by a majority vote and every commissioner would be responsible for it.
The remark came following concerns that Watcharapol’s personal close connection with Prawit could affect the NACC’s decision on the issue.
Watcharapol was the PM’s Office deputy secretary-general attached to Prawit in 2014 when the coup-installed government was formed.
The NACC president also denied having counselled Prawit on the watch issue.
“Why [would Prawit] unburden himself to me? He just does his job and I do mine,” he said. “He hasn’t sought any advice with me. He won’t. Don’t you worry about that.”
Prawit was caught up in controversy over a month ago when he was spotted in a Cabinet group photograph wearing a luxurious Richard Mille timepiece that could have cost millions of baht.
The NACC took the matter in hand after members of the public questioned whether Prawit had declared the watch as an asset when he became a minister.
When the agency demanded that Prawit provide an explanation, more photos of the general wearing fancy wristwatches kept emerging. Netizens now believe that Prawit could have at least 15 such expensive watches.
Prawit, late last month, submitted an explanation letter to the agency, but new photos continued appearing on the Internet.
Watcharapol said NACC officials might need more time to verify the information before making a judgement.
Four individuals had been summoned to the inquiry, he said. Whether the agency would need to call any other witnesses was not clear yet.
Prawit, meanwhile, refused to speak about the issue yesterday, saying only that it should be left to the NACC.
The general shrugged off the fact that the controversy has drawn wide criticism of him on the Internet.
He also refused to say if he had submitted an additional explanation to the agency, saying that he did not know and then walked out of the media interview.