More than $500 million in bank shares transferred on Thai king’s behalf

The Crown Property Bureau, which manages the multi-billion dollar assets of the royal family, had reduced its shares in Siam Commercial Bank by 3.33 percent on October 2. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
0

More than $500 million in bank shares transferred on Thai king’s behalf

BANGKOK: The financial arm of Thailand’s ultra-rich monarchy has transferred bank shares worth more than $500 million on behalf of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC filing said the Crown Property Bureau, which manages the multi-billion dollar assets of the royal family, had reduced its shares in Siam Commercial Bank by 3.33 percent on October 2.
That stake is worth 16.9 billion baht ($505 million) based on Friday’s closing share price of 151 baht.
The beneficiary of the shares was not specified but the move was carried out on the King’s behalf, the filing said.
The CPB, who now has an 18.14 percent stake in the bank, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The opaque agency does not declare its wealth but analysts estimate it manages between $30-60 billion in assets, making Thai royals among the richest in the world.
The CPB’s financial portfolio ranges from massive property ownership to investments in major companies, such as Siam Commercial Bank and Siam Cement Company.
Like all things regarding Thailand’s secrecy-shrouded monarchy, scrutiny of the CPB is curbed by a draconian defamation law that shields the royal family from criticism.
The transfers come after legal amendments passed in July gave King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne one year ago after the death of his father, direct control over a committee that oversees the CPB.
Under the previous law, the committee’s chairman was the finance minister, a move meant to ensure some semblance of government oversight.
The move was the latest in a series of steps by the new monarch to consolidate his control over the palace bureaucracy.
All media based in Thailand must self-censor when reporting on the monarchy to avoid violating the lese majeste law.


UN chief warns of ‘chaotic’ world order as General Assembly opens

Updated 25 September 2018
0

UN chief warns of ‘chaotic’ world order as General Assembly opens

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday opened the world's largest diplomatic gathering with a stark warning of growing chaos and confusion as the rules-based global order comes under threat of breaking down.
Addressing the opening session of the UN General Assembly, Guterres said trust in the rules-based global order and among states was "at a breaking point" and international cooperation was becoming more difficult.
"Today, world order is increasingly chaotic. Power relations are less clear," Guterres told the 193-nation assembly just minutes before President Donald Trump was to take the podium.
"Universal values are being eroded. Democratic principles are under siege."
Guterres did not single out a country for criticism, but there are fears among UN diplomats that the world is being carved up into spheres of influence and a return to great power rivalry.
Trump's administration has made clear its distrust of international treaties, having scrapped the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate agreement and cut funding to the United Nations.
UN diplomats say the US stance has emboldened Russia and China to push their view of the global order in which human rights take a second seat to development and sovereignty rights.
"Today, with shifts in the balance of power, the risk of confrontation may increase," warned Guterres.
The human rights agenda is losing ground and "authoritarianism is on the rise," he said
Guterres urged world leaders to renew their commitment to a rules-based order, with the United Nations at its center to confront "massive, existential threats to people and planet."
"There is no way forward but collective, common-sense action for the common good," he said.
Drawing a list of global problems, Guterres acknowledged that peace efforts were failing and that respect for international humanitarian norms was unraveling.
"There is outrage at our inability to end the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere", he said.
"The Rohingya people remain exiled, traumatized and in misery, still yearning for safety and justice."
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become "more and more distant" while the nuclear threat "has not eased".
Guterres zeroed in on climate change as an urgent priority, warning that if no concrete action is taken in the next two years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world risks facing runaway climate change.
"Climate change is moving faster than we are -- and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our world," he said.
About 130 world leaders are attending this year's annual session including Trump and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani who also speaks on Tuesday. France's Emmanuel Macron, a champion of multilateralism, also has his turn at the podium on Tuesday.