Crown Property Bureau
|Founded||June 15, 1937|
|Headquarters||Ladawan Palace, Dusit, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya
|Subsidiaries||Siam Cement Group
Siam Commercial Bank
The Crown Property Bureau (CPB) (Thai: สำนักงานทรัพย์สินส่วนพระมหากษัตริย์; rtgs: Samnakngan Sapsin Suan Phra Mahakasat) is the quasi-government agency responsible for managing the property of the crown of the Kingdom of Thailand. The king appoints six members of the bureau's governing board, with the seventh the sitting Minister of Finance of Thailand. Crown property does not belong to the king in his private capacity, but to the monarchy as an institution which continues from reign to reign.:282
The CPB is headed by Director-General Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya. CPB Property Co., Ltd. and CPB Equity Co., Ltd., both subsidiaries of the bureau, are headed by Michael David Selby, former partner of Business Advisory Indonesia and former employee of a United States government agency. During the late 1980s, the CPB had 600 employees, of which 90 percent were devoted to managing the bureau's massive real estate holdings.:60-63 In 2004, the CPB recorded over five billion baht in earnings. The CPB reportedly controls more than US$37 billion in assets—some say as much as US$59.4 billion—that, according to Thai law, can be spent "at the king's pleasure."
Despite the wealth of the CPB, the royal family receives funds from the government for expenses. Around US$170 million annually in state funding covers the salaries of staff working in the Royal Household Bureau and other palace offices, plus security provided for the royal family by police and armed forces. Public funds also cover the costs of many royal rural development projects.
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The Crown Property Bureau was established under the Royal Assets Structuring Act of 1936 and became a juristic person in 1948. According to the act, a Board of Crown Property was set up, to be chaired ex officio by the finance minister, and served by at least four royally-appointed directors. The king names one of the board members as the director-general of the CPB. The Board of Crown Property is responsible for the overall supervision of the activities of the Crown Property Bureau. Duties and responsibilities of the director-general are prescribed by the Board of Crown Property.
Initially, the CPB was under the jurisdiction of the Royal Treasury of the Royal Household Bureau. On 21 April 1935, the 1934 act to exempt royal assets from taxation took effect. The act categorised royal assets into two types:
- Assets eligible for tax exemption
- Assets eligible for tax payment
On 19 July 1937, the Royal Assets Structuring Act of 1936 became effective. It separated the royal assets into "His Majesty's personal assets", "crown property", and "public property". "His Majesty's personal assets" would be managed by the finance ministry. The CPB was set up with a status equivalent to a division under the treasury department of the finance ministry. Some of the functions, responsibilities, and officials were transferred from the Office of the Privy Purse to the Crown Property Bureau which sought permission to locate its office on the premises of the Office of the Privy Purse on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
The Royal Assets Structuring Act has been amended twice: the second amendment (1941) took effect on 7 October 1941 and the third amendment (1948) was promulgated on 18 February 1948. The CPB's status was then elevated to a juristic person responsible for supervising, preserving, and managing crown property. The CPB director-general is authorized to affix his signature on behalf of the bureau. The Crown Property Bureau has moved its office four times, with Ladawan Palace (commonly referred to as the "Red Palace") having been its home since 18 July 1946. The anniversary of the CPB's establishment is marked on 18 February.
The CPB claims to be responsible for protecting and managing the royal assets and property as well as supporting other activities for the benefit of Thai subjects and society. The Crown Property Bureau, however, is under no obligation to detail its holdings or how profits are spent.
The CPB owns approximately 6,560 hectares (16,200 acres) of property throughout Thailand.:11 The specific tracts of land owned by the CPB in Bangkok have not been made public. Through its shares of Siam Cement Group and Siam Commercial Bank, the bureau received dividends from 2010 equivalent to more than US$200 million.
In 2010, aggregate income from property came to 2.5 billion baht (US$80 million at 2012 rates). Prime real estate includes CentralWorld, a shopping mall, and the nearby Four Seasons hotel. In total, the CPB says it has 40,000 rental contracts, of which 17,000 are in Bangkok.
The CPB renews tenant lease contracts every three years for rent rationalization and planned site development consistent with long-term city planning considerations. The CPB has the authority to assist tenants who are affected by floods or political unrest with rent and fee reductions.
The CPB makes long-term investments in selected businesses such as the Siam Cement Group (SCG) (30 percent ownership), the largest Thai industrial conglomerate, and Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) (21 percent ownership), the country's first commercial bank. Through its shares of SCG and SCB, the bureau received dividends from 2010 equivalent to more than US$200 million. The CPB has the majority holding in the Kempinski Hotels group and Prince Vajiralongkorn often stayed at the Kempinski Munich prior to the purchase of a home on Lake Starnberg, 25 kilometres southwest of Munich.
The CPB has expanded its diversified social projects such as temple restorations, and rice research and development with the Rice Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
"Youth development" is promoted jointly in partnership with the SCB and the SCG. The projects have been aimed at supporting the Ministry of Education for inculcating the king's "sufficiency economy" philosophy in the Thai school system and the establishment of the Nitasrattanakosin Exhibition Hall on Ratchadamnoen Avenue for Thai youth to learn, appreciate, and take pride in Thailand's artistic and cultural accomplishments of the Rattanakosin era. The CPB has supported numerous other projects such as scholarships for Thai youth.
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- "Thailand's Crown Property Bureau: Economic Brake?". Asia Sentinel. 2015-04-15. Retrieved 16 Apr 2015.
- Grossman, Nicholas; Faulder, Dominic, eds. (2012). King Bhumibol Adulyadej: A Life's Work (Reprinted ed.). Editions Didier Millet. ISBN 9814260568.
- Short history from the Crown Property Bureau website Archived August 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Board of Directors". The Crown Property Bureau. Retrieved 26 Feb 2015.
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- Joehnk, Tom Felix (2015-12-03). "The Thai Monarchy and Its Money". New York Times. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Annual Report 2014 (PDF) (2014 ed.). Bangkok: The Crown Property Bureau. 2015. ISBN 978-974-8259-89-5. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- Montlake, Simon (2012-01-20). "In Thailand, A Rare Peek At His Majesty's Balance Sheet". Forbes. Retrieved 26 Feb 2015.
- Chachavalpongpun, Pavin (24 July 2016). "A crown prince and German affairs". New Mandala. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
- Crown Property 2010 Annual Report[dead link]