BANGKOK – Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission has once again said it needs more time and details on the watch scandal involving Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.
The national anti-graft body says it is still seeking crucial information from companies abroad that sold the luxury watches worn by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon before it can conclude its investigation into the months-old affair.
Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) chairman, elaborated on previous media reports that local dealers of the luxury watches had refused to provide the NACC with any information about the serial numbers of the timepieces in question.
He said those local dealers told the NACC that they didn’t have any information to provide as those particular watch models weren’t sold in Thailand.
The NACC had sought ownership details of the watches worn by Gen Prawit from local dealers, saying that the information could prove crucial in concluding the case.
As a result, the NACC now has to submit its requests regarding ownership information to the parent companies overseas selling the watches, said Mr Watcharapol.
“We have to admit that this will take time but the requested information is crucial to the investigation,” he said.
Asked how confident the NACC was that the parent companies selling the watches would cooperate, he said he could not say if they will or won’t at this point.
This move is simply a request for information and their response will depend on multiple factors including whether those companies normally keep a record of the serial numbers of watches that they distribute to dealers, he said.
And in response to criticism made against the NACC for having not set up a committee to formally investigate the scandal, he said it is not always necessary to do so with every case.
The standard practice is that a formal investigation committee is required to be formed only when the fact-finding panel finds reason to believe a particular accusation is true, Mr Watcharapol said.
And in this case, the fact-finding committee has yet to finish its work as it is still waiting for information about ownership of the watches allegedly belonging to Gen Prawit, he added.
Gen Prawit’s wealth has been in question since he was spotted wearing a luxury watch during a cabinet members’ group photo session on Dec 4 of last year.
The deputy premier has been seen on other occasions wearing a total of 22 different luxury watches.
The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand, another corruption watchdog, earlier this week renewed its call for the NACC to speed up the fact-finding probe into the watch scandal, saying three months have passed since the ACT formally asked the NACC about the progress of the probe but the only response received was that it is still in the fact-finding stage.