Leicester City’s owners are being sued for £327million by the Thai government over an alleged attempt to dodge taxes.
A Thai anti-corruption court has accepted a lawsuit accusing duty-free giant King Power, the company that owns Leicester City Football Club, of owing the state unpaid taxes.
King Power is owned by billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the 60-year-old who bought Leicester for an estimated £44m in 2010 and financed their incredible Premier League title win in 2016, and his son Aiyawatt.
The suit accuses King Power executives of colluding with airport authorities to pay only three per cent of the company’s annual revenue instead of the contracted 15 per cent.
The plaintiff, an anti-corruption official called Charnchai Issarasenanark, said the graft caused the state 14billion baht (£327m) in damages.
‘The court agreed to hear the case,’ an official from Bangkok’s Corruption court told reporters.
King Power, whose lawyer declined to comment, has previously denied any wrongdoing and filed a number of defamation lawsuits against Charnchai.
A trial is forecasted to take place in March.
King Power denied any wrongdoing in a statement in July. ‘The allegations in question are categorically denied,’ it read.
‘King Power has always followed and been absolutely committed to the highest standards in proper and ethical business practice. We are proud of our company’s good name and honest reputation and will fight rigorously any attempts to discredit them.’
Vichai started King Power with a single shop in Bangkok in 1989, and has since built an estimated fortune of £2.2bn through his duty-free empire.
The firm now has a near-monopoly on duty-free sales in Thailand’s main airports, plus a satellite mall in Bangkok favoured by Chinese tourists.
He has carefully navigated Thailand’s treacherous political waters of recent years, frequently rubbing shoulders with the elite, and taking Leicester on tours of the country.