Ousted billionaire Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Thursday joked that the seizure of his assets in a military coup had helped shield his wealth from the worst of the financial crisis.
"I do not know whether I should condemn or thank the military junta that has frozen my assets in Thailand, otherwise I probably would have invested a lot in the stock exchange and lost it," he said.
Thaksin was speaking from Dubai by videolink to the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong after cancelling an earlier planned appearance over worries it would upset Chinese-Thai relations.
Thaksin said he was currently short of money and had "just enough" to cover his travel expenses and maintain his lifestyle.
Despite this, he said he was considering investments in telecoms, where he made his first fortune.
Twice-elected Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup and was sentenced in absentia in October to two years in prison for abuse of power linked to a 2003 land deal.
His assets in Thailand were frozen and he has since hopped around the world, including a brief stint as the owner of English football club Manchester City.