AP Wire Service
BANGKOK (AP) — Asset disclosures by members of Thailand’s military-dominated post-coup Cabinet reveal they are quite well-off, a trait shared with the civilian politicians they accused of corruption.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission on Friday released the asset declarations of the 33 Cabinet ministers, 25 of whom are millionaires in dollar terms.
Allegations of corruption and inappropriately gained wealth have played a major role in the country’s fractious politics in the last decade. The current government has made fighting corruption a priority, though its critics believe the policy is being wielded mainly as a weapon against its political rivals, particularly those connected to the elected government it ousted.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army commander led a May coup d’etat, listed 128.6 million baht ($3.9 million) in assets and 654,745 baht ($20,000) in liabilities. Under the disclosure laws, assets belonging to spouses and children under 21 must be included. He also reported the transfer of 466.5 million baht ($14.3 million) to other family members.
Before his retirement at the end of September, the general received a 1.4 million baht ($43,000) annual salary as army chief. His assets include a Mercedes Benz S600L car, a BMW 740Li Series sedan, luxury watches, rings, and several pistols.
The richest Cabinet minister is Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devekula with 1.38 billion baht ($42.3 million) of declared assets, mostly stocks, other financial investments, and land. He also holds lifetime memberships in five golf clubs. The former Bank of Thailand governor does not have any debts.
Pridiyathorn’s fortune is dwarfed by that of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who listed more than $3 billion in assets during his time with the government, from 2001 to 2006.
Thaksin, whose fortune was based on telecommunications but diversified into other sectors, was ousted in an earlier military coup after being accused of corruption. He claimed he was the victim of a political vendetta organized by the country’s traditional ruling class who were upset at the political power he accumulated at the polls. He was convicted on a conflict of interest charge in 2008, but fled the country to escape jail.
His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, became prime minister after leading his political allies to victory in a 2011 general election. She was forced out of office shortly before this year’s coup when she was found guilty of abuse of power.
According to her last filing, Yingluck had 640 million baht ($19.6 million) in assets. The richest member of her Cabinet was Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana with 3 billion baht ($94 million). (end)