A senior academic had done nothing wrong in the "unusual wealth" case involving former defence permanent secretary Gen Sathian Permthong-in, an investigator said yesterday.
Sombat Chanthornwong, a political science lecturer at Thammasat University, was not guilty of wrongdoing, National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) member Vicha Mahakhun said.
Mr Vicha told the Bangkok Post yesterday that Mr Sombat is only a witness in the case as he is a "nominee", holding the assets on behalf of Gen Sathian's wife and daughter.
Mr Sombat had not committed any offences so the NACC had not considered pursuing any legal action against him, Mr Vicha said.
He added that Mr Sombat is now a retired civil servant so he only has the status of an ordinary person and had not committed malfeasance in this case.
The NACC is now focusing on investigating Gen Sathian's assets.
An NACC panel found that Gen Sathian was unusually rich while serving as defence permanent secretary.
More than 10 million baht was transferred to his bank account and more than 100 million baht into the accounts of his wife, Natthanicha, and their adopted daughter, Nichapat, in 2010.
The NACC has frozen about 65 million baht worth of assets held by Gen Sathian and his wife and their daughter and Mr Sombat after declaring the retired officer unusually wealthy on Tuesday.
The panel also found that more than 20 million baht was later transferred to Mr Sombat who was counselling Ms Nichapat on her doctorate.
About 11.9 million baht in four deposit accounts in the university's savings cooperative held by Mr Sombat was also frozen.
Mr Sombat yesterday said Mrs Natthanicha and Ms Nichapat visited him at his home last year and asked him to hold onto 18 million baht temporarily because their family had some problems.
Mr Sombat said he then deposited the money into several bank accounts with about 1-3 million baht in each.
The pair returned a few days later and asked for the money back to buy a land plot and also sought permission from him to use his name as a business partner.
In October last year, he said, Mrs Natthanicha gave him a cheque worth 27 million baht which she said was the profit she made selling the land plot to a company.
The firm wrote the cheque with Mr Somsak as the recipient.
Mr Sombat said he then deposited the money in the university's savings cooperative.
He said he withdrew money from the account 15 or 16 times and returned most of it to Ms Nichapat.
Mr Sombat said he will resign from all academic posts to show moral responsibility.
He will submit his resignation to the rector of Thammasat University on March 6.
He will also meet the NACC to clarify the case today.
Mr Somsak said he had no idea whether the money given to him was legally acquired or not.
He said if he had known it would get him in trouble, he would not have agreed to hold onto the money.
Mr Sombat said he will testify to the NACC again and submit all evidence including financial documents to the NACC today.
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Writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros & Amornrat Mahitthirook