Ombudsman to take up Sanit case

Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn's claim to have advised Thai Beverage for 50,000 baht every month will be under scrutiny on Tuesday by the Ombudsman's Office. (Screen grab via Thai PBS)

Accusations that Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) commissioner violated the ethics of political office-holders by taking an advisory role in a major alcohol conglomerate will go before the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday.

Ombudsman secretary-general, Raksagecha Chaechai, said Sunday authorities had completed an examination of Pol Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn's asset declaration document, submitted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) last week.

The office would examine whether Pol Lt Gen Sanit, who is also a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), breached the assembly's disciplinary code of conduct by working as an adviser for Thai Beverage Plc as accused.

Other information and comments on the issues from all sides would also be reviewed.

Once the review is finished, the issue would be brought up in the meeting for the Ombudsman's consideration, he said.

Mr Raksagecha, however, said Pol Lt Gen Sanit's document handed to the office was similar to a previous paper that he submitted to the NACC in an asset declaration, not a formal document issued by the NACC.

Late last year, a civic group, the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, asked the Ombudsman to look into the matter after the NACC disclosed Pol Lt Gen Sanit's asset declaration following his appointment as an NLA member.

According to the asset report, Pol Lt Gen Sanit had been receiving a monthly payment of 50,000 baht from Thai Beverage since 2015, which sparked public criticism about his professional ethics.

Pol Lt Gen Sanit was also accused of breaching the ethics of political office-holders on the grounds that there is a conflict of interest in his duty as a lawmaker, as he may have to deal with legislation related to alcoholic beverages. Shortly afterwards, Thai Beverage also wrote to the Ombudsman, insisting the conglomerate had never hired the senior officer.

Pol Lt Gen Sanit later claimed there was a mistake in his asset declaration and insists he has never worked as an adviser for the alcoholic drinks giant. He also denied taking a salary from the firm.

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