Breaking his long silence regarding the luxury wristwatch controversy, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan admitted for the first time today (Sunday) that the wristwatches were lent to him by Mr Patthavart Suksriwong, a wealthy businessman who was his close former classmate at St Gabriel College, according to Post Today online.
Insisting on his innocence, he said he was not stupid who knew nothing about the legal requirement to declare his assets and liabilities with the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
He clarified that he didn’t declare the wristwatches his assets because they did not belong to him but were lent to him by Mr Patthavart whom he described as a very rich businessman with tens of billion of baht fortune and a wristwatch collector who had 200-300 timepieces in his collection.
“I am not stupid. I was in government service for a long time and was minister for many times. Why didn’t I know about the assets declaration? Because the wristwatches belong to a friend and it was my turn that he lent me the timepieces,” said General Prawit.
He said that Mr Patthavart was his close friend since they studied together from primary education at St Gabriel College, but he died last year.
“We were very close and he was very rich for quite a long time. He lent me the wristwatches for 20-30 years. When I became bored with any of them, I returned them to him and he lent me new ones. This went on for a long time. He didn’t give away, but he lent me the watches,” said the deputy prime minister, adding that this was the same clarification that he made with the NACC.
However, he admitted that he might have erred from the start when he did not clarify clearly because he didn’t think it would be blown out of proportion. He further said that he would accept whatever the ruling from the NACC about his controversy.