Prawit's watch disclosure case goes to court

Prawit's watch disclosure case goes to court

News outlet seeks Administrative Court order after receiving blank pages from NACC

One of the blank documents the NACC sent to The Matter after it asked it for details of Gen Prawit Wongsuwon's asset disclosure case. (Photo from Facebook/The Matter)
One of the blank documents the NACC sent to The Matter after it asked it for details of Gen Prawit Wongsuwon's asset disclosure case. (Photo from Facebook/The Matter)

The Central Administrative Court has accepted a petition filed by an online news outlet against the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for refusing to give it details of the case in which Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon was accused of failing to declare some assets.

The NACC cleared Gen Prawit in December 2018, saying that he had indeed borrowed 22 luxury watches from a friend so he did not need to declare them when he became deputy prime minister and defence minister in 2014. 

The Matter posted a statement on Facebook on Saturday saying that the court had accepted the case for consideration after the Thai-language news site asked the NACC to give it copies of related documents late in 2018 under the Public Information Act.

“We’re not trying to investigate Gen Prawit — after all politicians come and go,” the message said. “Our goal is to probe the NACC, the independent organisation responsible for suppressing corruption and creating transparency for the country."

The Matter asked the NACC for the documents on Dec 27, 2018. The NACC voted 5:3 to refuse the request.

A few days later, the news outlet exercised its right under the Public Information Act, demanding six documents including the comprehensive investigation report, reasons given by NACC commissioners, brands and makes of the borrowed watches, and the list of people who had also borrowed the watches from the same person. The purported owner of the watches, said to have been a friend of Gen Prawit, is no longer alive.

In June 2019, the NACC sent the outlet some of the requested documents but half of the comprehensive investigation report consisted of blank pages.

The Matter appealed to the Public Information Ruling Committee, which summoned it and the NACC to give explanations. It issued an order for the NACC to send The Matter the remaining documents by Oct 31 last year.

After the NAAC missed the deadline, the news outlet filed a petition with the Central Administrative Court, which has now accepted the case for consideration.

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