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Repo Man Seizes Crown Prince of Thailand's Jet

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One would imagine Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand might have been mildly surprised when he showed up at the Munich airport and found a notice from liquidation company Schneider, Geiwitz and Partner that his private 737-400 had been seized:

The story, according to Der Spiegel, is as follows:

German insolvency officials seized the Boeing 737 two weeks ago in an attempt to force the Thai government to repay an outstanding debt exceeding €30 million ($43.4 million) to a German construction firm, Walter Bau, which built a 26-kilometer (16.15 mile) stretch of motorway in Thailand in the 1990s.

Thailand responded by saying the plane wasn't government property and belonged to the Thai royal family. In mid-July, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya personally traveled to Berlin to secure the release of the plane. According to the Bangkok Post, he warned that German-Thai relations would be damaged if no satisfactory solution were found, and said German authorities were making a "huge mistake."

But the German government said it couldn't intervene in a court matter. Meanwhile, the prince, in Germany on a summer vacation, went picking strawberries in the Bavarian countryside -- 60 kilos of them -- with his entourage in a convoy of unimpounded limousines. Reports say he also browsed toy stores and enjoyed the German delicacy of sausage covered in curry sauce.

This latest escapade won't do much to improve the prince's standing with his subjects. As Lewis Simons, writing for The Daily Beast in 2010, explains, the prince's father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, "has devoted his adult life to a well-choreographed campaign of winning the hearts and minds of his people through good works and generous handouts," while "the crown prince has offended Thais with his seeming arrogance and vulgar ways."

Writes Simons:

Many were scandalized last November when a video appeared on the Internet, showing the prince frolicking by a swimming pool with his wife. While the prince appears in a sports shirt and smoking a pipe, his wife is naked but for a fringed G-string, serving birthday cake to the couple’s miniature poodle, Fu-Fu, as white-gloved servants wait on the royal couple. The pampered Fu-Fu has been assigned the rank of “captain” by the crown prince and sometimes accompanies its royal master to formal state dinners.

Vajiralongkorn, 57, a military pilot by training, has long stood out in the otherwise restrained royal family. His relationships with women have been numerous, complex, and particularly offensive to the public. While married to his first wife, a cousin with whom he had a daughter in 1978, he had five other children with a live-in girlfriend, a would-be actress. After divorcing his wife, he married his mistress in 1984. That marriage ended 12 years later, after the actress fled to Britain with the couple’s daughter. Undaunted, the prince abducted the child and brought her back to Thailand. In 2001, he married again, although it took years before the marriage was made public. His present wife, known as Princess Srirasmi, is another scandalous liaison. A commoner, she worked on his staff, “waiting on him,” before they married. The couple has a 5-year-old son, now second in line to the throne, but there are rumors of other children by other women, although the royal palace has not acknowledged them.

As of right now, the aircraft is still parked on the tarmac in Munich, though deputy chief justice Christoph Fellner says he will release it upon deposit of 20 million euros "in the form of a bank guarantee."

"No guarantee means no take-off," he said.

The 737 fiasco apparently rattled the prince enough that he took measures to avoid seeing his other vehicles meet the same fate.

German tabloid Bild am Sonntag reports that, "to prevent his Mercedes also being impounded" he parked it "at a luxury Munich hotel where it was being watched over by 10 bodyguards."
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