The National Anti-Corruption Commission decided by majority vote on Thursday that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon had no intention of making a false assets declaration by omitting 22 luxury watches he had been seen wearing.
NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon said they had sought clarification from Gen Prawit on four occasions in response to allegations that he had made a false assets declaration.
Gen Prawit told the NACC he had borrowed the watches from his close, since deceased, friend Patthawat Suksriwong, and had returned them all.
The NACC also sought information from witnesses, local dealers of luxury brand watches, the Customs Department and the Foreign Ministry and from overseas luxury watch manufacturers.
The commission found that Patthawat had been a rich businessman and collected luxury watches. He had often offered financial help and lent luxury watches to old friends from Saint Gabriel's College, including Gen Prawit, Mr Worawit said.
At Patthawat's residence, the NACC found 20 luxury watches and a warranty for another watch that Gen Prawit had been seen wearing. Therefore, it believed that Gen Prawit had borrowed the 21 watches.
The commission did not find the 22nd watch, but assumed that Gen Prawit had also borrowed it from Patthawat, given Patthawat's mentioned generosity to his friends, Mr Worawit said.
Therefore, the NACC resolved by a 5:3 vote that Gen Prawit had no intention of making a false assets declaration when he filed it with the NACC on Sept 4, 2014, after taking on the positions of deputy prime minister and defence minister.
The minority commissioners wanted the NACC to expand its investigation into the matter because they felt the existing information was insufficient, Mr Worawit said.
In addition, the NACC did not think Gen Prawit had to declare three rings he was seen wearing, because they were his father's and he received them as an inheritance from his mother after taking up the two cabinet portfolios, Mr Worawit said.