The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has the authority to initiate investigations into whether a person holding a political position or a state official is “unusually wealthy” under Chapter 7 of the Anti-Corruption Act, B.E. 2542, which was amended in April 2011. “Unusual wealth” essentially means wealth that is acquired improperly in connection with the exercise of government powers.
If the NACC believes that a person holding a political position or a state official under investigation (the “Subject”) is about to transfer, transform or conceal an asset relating to unusual wealth, the NACC can issue an order temporarily freezing that asset. If such an order is issued, the Subject needs to prove that the frozen asset is not related to his or her unusual wealth under investigation; otherwise, the NACC may continue to freeze the asset until the NACC determines that the accusation is groundless or a competent court renders a final judgment dismissing the case. (§ 78)
Persons holding political positions and certain senior officials are generally required to submit to the NACC a report identifying their assets and liabilities (including those of their spouse and children who have not reached the age of capacity) when they take and leave office. Some positions also require the submission of such reports every three years while the position is held. Those reports could be used by the NACC when a person holding a political position or a state official is accused of unusual wealth. (§ 75)
If the NACC concludes that the Subject is unusually wealthy, the NACC will request the Attorney-General to file a court motion for forfeiture of the person’s assets related to the unusual wealth. (§ 80) The Subject has the burden of proof to convince the court that his or her assets were obtained legitimately. (§ 81)
Apart from asset forfeiture, the NACC may conduct a parallel investigation to determine if there was any malfeasance or submission of a false assets and liabilities report by the Subject, either of which could result in criminal liability or disciplinary action.