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Thai king takes control of $30bn assets

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has been granted full, personal ownership of royal assets thought to be worth at least $30bn (£22bn) due to a recent change in the law.

Until last year’s law change granting King Maha Vajiralongkorn ownership of royal assets, the Crown Property Bureau had control over the royal fortune on behalf of the monarchy since it was established in 1938.

Maha Vajiralongkorn, 65, became King of Thailand in December 2016, succeeding his deeply respected and adored father King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the world’s longest-reigning monarch until his death in October 2016.

The Crown Property Bureau said in a statement it was required “to return whatever asset of the Crown property previously under its charge, to His Majesty so that His Majesty may take decisions on all matters pertaining to their charge and management at his discretion.”

The assets include shares in various companies and real estate such as the Siam Commercial Bank and the Siam Cement Group, a major building materials conglomerate in Bangkok.

Stock exchange data in October revealed shares worth over $500m in Siam Commercial Bank were transferred to the King, Reuters news agency reports.

The statement also notes that “His Majesty made the decision to make the ‘Crown Property Assets’ be subject to the same duties and taxation as would assets belonging to any other citizen”.

This means that taxes are liable on Thai royal assets for the first time.

It also pledged to ensure the management of assets would be “transparent and open to scrutiny”.

The announcement also said that the King could direct the existing Office of the Crown Property Bureau, or any other designated person or agency, to manage the assets now held in his name.

The extent of the Crown Property Bureau’s wealth is not known. However, in 2012, Forbes magazine estimated its value in property and other investments came to more than $30bn.

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