World News

Thai King Now Owns Monarchy Assets. He’ll Have to Pay Taxes on Them.

Posted June 17, 2018 3:53 p.m. EDT

BANGKOK — Assets of the Thai royal family that have been managed by an official agency have been turned over to direct ownership by the king, who will be able to manage them as he sees fit but must also begin to pay taxes on them, the agency has said.

The wealth of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, including the newly transferred assets, is estimated at more than $30 billion. The transfer of the assets is part of a continuing effort by the 65-year-old king to consolidate his authority since he ascended the throne in 2016.

“All ‘Crown Property Assets’ are to be transferred and revert to the ownership of His Majesty so that they may be administered and managed at His Majesty’s discretion,” said an undated statement posted on the website of the Crown Property Bureau, which had long managed them.

“In short, those assets previously registered in the name of the Crown Property Bureau will now be held in the name of His Majesty,” the announcement said.

A law enacted by the country’s Parliament last year provided for the transfer.

The change means that the transferred assets will be subject to Thai taxes, which was not the case when they were under the management of the Crown Property Bureau.

The assets will be “subject to the same duties and taxation as would assets belonging to any other citizen,” the bureau said in its statement.

The statement did not name the assets being transferred or give any indication of their value. Assets that have been under the property bureau’s management included Bangkok real estate and shares in the Siam Commercial Bank and the Siam Cement Group, a large producer of cement and building materials.

King Vajiralongkorn succeeded his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for 70 years. He was revered by many Thais, who saw him as an advocate of the common people and a promoter of economic development.

Thailand is ruled by a military junta that seized control four years ago from a democratically elected government. Promised elections have not materialized, prompting recent protests in Bangkok, the capital.

Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws make it a crime to insult the monarchy, and violators can be sentenced to 15 years or more in prison.