Brother of Thailand's leader cleared in corruption probe

By David Allen - 15 Oct '15 09:24AM

The younger brother of Thailand's military rule has predictably been exonerated by an anti-graft panel after he misstated his assets in a still-confusing report to the public.

Under Thai law, all top officials have to make declarations about their assets and debits. It is widely believed that many of them cheat.

Army General Preecha Chan-o-cha, younger brother of the ruling military chief, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, understated the assets he and his wife hold, and was investigated because he had not submitted a full list of his wife's assets.

The couple's original submission last year to Thailand's National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) showed just over 42 million baht (then the equivalent of $1.24 million), while further investigation showed their known cash assets to be more than twice as much.

To further complicate (some charged "misdirect") investigators, General Preecha added assets of the savings cooperative of the 3rd Army Region, which he commanded. Neither he nor his wife have anything to do with the fund, and it was unclear why he included it.

Now, the NACC has claimed it has sorted out the confusing report, and has cleared General Preecha of any fraud. The head of the anti-graft panel, Sansern Poljeak, said, "It could have been a technical mistake."

This raised memories in Thailand of 2001 when the then-rising political star Thaksin Shinawatra misstated his assets declaration, but appealed successfully to the court that it was an "honest mistake".

Thaksin was overthrown by another military coup in 2006. He was convicted of misuse of power in 2008, but fled into exile just ahead of being sentenced to prison for two years - and a lifetime of other legal charges.

Preecha was promoted to assistant army commander, effective October 1. He was eligible for promotion to full army commander, but his brother failed to give the needed support.

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