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OPINION

Siam Commercial bears brunt of royal Thai protest

SCB pays the price for its Royal connections.

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King Vajiralongkorn feels the heat

Why has Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) become a magnet for Thai pro-democracy protesters?

In November, thousands rallied in Bangkok outside the bank’s Ratchadapisek Road headquarters, prompting its closure, while many others led a social media campaign to boycott SCB.

The reason has to do with the bank’s connections to the royal family and its wealth.

The biggest shareholder in the bank is the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), which holds and manages the assets of the Thai monarchy.

This has always been a powerful and somewhat shadowy institution – it is thought to hold as much as $40 billion in wealth, 80 times that of the Queen of England – but has until now been given something of a free pass because of Thai adoration of the royal family.

Personal control

However, in 2018, King Vajiralongkorn was granted personal control over this wealth under the Royal Assets Structuring Act. The CPB’s assets were put under his own name.

The lack of scrutiny of this wealth, the appointment of a royalist former army chief as deputy director of the bureau and public images of the king staying for months at a Bavarian resort during a pandemic that has crippled the tourism-reliant Thai economy, have prompted calls for reform.

SCB