Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters yesterday that he had borrowed all the luxury wristwatches from a very rich friend, who collected timepieces and died early last year (and unfortunately can’t answer the public’s burning questions about where the watches came from and if they were ever declared as anyone’s assets).
Prawit’s unusual wealth became public interest over the past four months after he was photographed in December sporting a diamond-encrusted Richard Mille watch costing between THB4-10 million and a flashy diamond ring.
Social media then started collecting past photographs of the junta No. 2. “CSI LA” Facebook page, which investigates and raises awareness of social issues, has counted 25 watches collectively worth THB39.5 million (US$1.2 million), including 11 Rolexes, eight Patek Philippe’s and three Richard Milles.
However, the watches were undeclared on Prawit’s THB87.3 million (US$2.8 million) asset list, a document mandatory upon taking office in Thailand.
Prawit told media yesterday that he borrowed all 25 watches from his deceased close friend Pattawat Suksiwong, whom he went to Saint Gabriel’s school in Bangkok with, Post Today reported.
Prawit said that his friend was a billionaire who collected about 200-300 luxury timepieces.
“We were very close, and he was very rich,” Prawit said.
“Pattawat had always been rich. He had lent me his watches for 20-30 years. When they got old or I got bored with the watches, I returned them and he lent me new ones. I’d been doing this for a long time. He didn’t give me any of the watches — he just lent them me because he was a collector.”
“I’m not stupid. I’ve been a bureaucrat for a long time. How many times was I a minister? How could I not know about the assets declaration?”
Prawit’s response came after the National Anti-Corruption Commission had a meeting on Thursday to discuss the investigation on Prawit’s timepieces.
A secretary to NACC, Worawit Sukboon, said on Thursday that the organization is questioning witnesses and collecting evidence from 13 companies about the watches’ serial numbers, which would prove who their legal owner was, according to Voice TV.
About the flashy diamond ring, Worawit said it was passed on to Prawit by his father. Since the ring costs less than THB200,000 ($US6,412), the junta boss wasn’t required to declare it.
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