Friday, August 22, 2008

Forbes report on King is inaccurate, says ministry


Forbes report on King is inaccurate, says ministry


A report in Forbes magazine on the world's richest royals, which ranked His Majesty the King as the world's richest monarch with an estimated fortune of US$35 billion, or about 1.1 trillion baht, is inaccurate and inconsistent, according to the Crown Property Bureau.

The Foreign Ministry yesterday released a statement saying the report published by Forbes on Aug 20, which ranked His Majesty as the world's wealthiest monarch, was incorrect.

The ministry quoted the Crown Property Bureau as saying the report was inaccurate and inconsistent. While the report states that some items are not considered to belong to the King and as such were not counted in the monarch's net worth, Forbes included land and other assets belonging to the Crown Property Bureau, which is not part of His Majesty's personal net worth.

The Crown Property Bureau also stated that it leases most of its land at low prices to state agencies, non-governmental organisations, for community housing and shophouses.

Only about 7% of its land is leased at commercial prices.

The Foreign Ministry added that the report's reference to His Majesty the King and the 2006 military coup was also incorrect.

The King had no role in the military intervention that took place in September 2006. As the head of state, according to the constitution, royal assent is required for important matters of state. The King's royal assent by signature to the order appointing the chairman of the Council for Democratic Reform was a pro forma exercise of functions assigned to a constitutional monarch.

Forbes said in its report that the Crown Property Bureau granted unprecedented access to its assets this year, revealing vast landholdings, including 3,493 acres, or about 8,732 rai, in Bangkok.

Forbes called it a good year for monarchs, investment-wise. ''As a group, the world's 15 richest royals have increased their total wealth to $131 billion, up from $95 billion last year,'' it said.

With oil prices soaring, monarchs from the Middle East and Asia dominate the list. Sheik Khalifa, 60, the head of the United Arab Emirates, was estimated to be worth $23 billion, on the back of Abu Dhabi's huge petroleum reserves.

In third place was the sovereign of the world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, 84, who inherited the Al-Saud family throne in 2005, has $21 billion.

The previous king of kings, wealth-wise, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, fell to fourth with $20 billion.

Fifth was Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid of Dubai, with $18 billion.

One of two Europeans on the list, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, ranked six on the list with $5 billion.

Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani came seventh, with $2 billion. Eighth was King Mohammed VI of Morocco, his $1.5 billion fortune based on phosphate mining, agriculture and other investments.

Number nine was Prince Albert II of Monaco, 50, his diverse fortune in the southern European principality put at $1.4 billion.

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