Thai Bank Sell-Off Continues

Thailand’s state-run Krung Thai bank is continuing its liquidation, despite reports that Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shina­watra wants a Cambodia branch to remain open.

Speaking at his office in the nearly deserted bank, Nakrob Usetthasaksi, general manager of the bank’s Phnom Penh branch, said any order to remain open would be up to the governments of Cambodia and Thailand.

The bank expects to be liquidated by December, he said, fol­low­­ing a new banking law that requires an increased minimum capital for banks of $13 million.

Only four of 31 banks were licensed under the new law by the National Bank. Sixteen others were given partial licenses and given until December to increase their capital.

Closures of the remaining banks hit depositors hard, with some of them failing to reclaim the money they had invested after their banks were liquidated.

Nevertheless, the government insists that the stronger laws and closures are necessary to streng­then the country’s banking by following international standards.

Thai newspapers reported Wed­nes­day that during a visit with Thai bus­inessmen, Thak­sin said he did not want the bank’s Phnom Penh branch to close.

Thai businessmen told the premier they would like to see the bank stay here, according to a Thai embassy official present at Tuesday’s meeting.

The prime minister said he “would consider” finding ways to make that happen, the official said.

Thai-owned banks are needed to help the 600 to 700 Thai businessmen operating in Cambodia, Nakrob said.


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