June 16, 2018 / 11:25 AM / a month ago

Assets registered to Thai Crown Property Bureau to be held under king's name

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Assets previously registered to Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau will now be held “in the name of His Majesty”, the bureau said on its official website on Saturday, the latest shake-up in royal affairs under King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

FILE PHOTO - Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn arrives for the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony in central Bangkok, Thailand May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

The Crown Property Bureau said its assets will now be “subject to the same duties and taxation as would assets belonging to any other citizen”. Previously, assets registered in the name of the Crown Property Bureau were exempt from tax.

“The removal of exempted status was accomplished in line with His Majesty’s wishes,” the statement said.

The exact size of the Crown Property Bureau is not made public, but Forbes magazine valued the bureau’s holdings in real estate and other investments at more than $30 billion in 2012.

King Vajiralongkorn, 65, who became monarch after the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in 2016, has overseen a number of changes to the way royal affairs are managed since taking the throne.

A royal property law was amended in July last year to formally give the king full control of the Crown Property Bureau, which manages the multi-billion dollar holdings of the monarchy and controls huge swathes of land in Bangkok.

A senior official at the Crown Property Bureau declined to comment when contacted by Reuters by phone about the changes.

Palace representatives did not respond to several Reuters attempts to reach the palace for comment.

Saturday’s announcement is an extension of the July 2017 legal change and gives even greater authority to King Vajiralongkorn, who has shown himself increasingly assertive since the death of his father.

In March, stock exchange data showed the king acquired a nearly $150 million stake in the country’s biggest industrial conglomerate, Siam Cement Group Pcl. In October, shares worth over $500 million in Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) were transferred to the king.

The king is listed as SCB’s seventh-largest shareholder.

Also in March, King Vajiralongkorn appointed Air Chief Marshal Satitpong Sukvimol as director-general of the Crown Property Bureau, replacing Chirayu Israngkun Na Ayuthaya who had held the post since 1987.

Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Tom Hogue and Neil Fullick

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