Monk wins B54m lottery, blackmailed

CHON BURI - A senior monk has called for help from the media, saying he won a total of 54 million baht in the lottery and has since been constantly harrassed, blackmailed even, by lottery sellers demanding a share of the winnings, reports said on Tuesday.

Phra Kru Sunthornsilawatra Kantlilo (real name Sanoh Kanmachand), the abbot of Wat Tapo Taram in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district, told reporters that a group of lottery sellers continually hassled him and demanded he share some of the money with them.

The 60-year-old monk said he eventually had to leave his temple and stay at a lawyer's home in Pathum Thani's Tanyaburi district.

Songkran Atchariyasap, the monk's lawyer and chairman of the Facebook network against acts that destroy kingdom, religion and monarchy, said he received a complaint from Phra Kru Sunthornsilawatra, who claimed that the lottery sellers had tried many ways to force him to pay them.

"One lottery seller pushed Phra Kru Sunthornsilawatra towards a woman [monks are not allowed to touch women].

"Fortunately, the abbot was with other monks at the time, which was also captured on video," Mr Songkran said.

He said some lottery sellers filed complaints with police, accusing the abbot of owing them millions of baht.

Mr Songkran said he will take the abbot to a temple in Bangkok where he will stay for the time being for his own safety. The lawyer later went to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), asking the police to take legal action against the people who tried to exploit him.

Phra Kru Sunthornsilawatra Kantlilo, left, and Songkran Atchariyasap (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)

He will return to the CSD with the monk on Thursday to give more details about the case to the police, according to Pol Lt Col Sing Singdej.

Phra Kru Sunthornsilawatra said that one lottery seller, whose name he did not disclose, rode his bike to the temple and begged him to buy his last three lottery tickets on Sept 1, 2011.

The abbot said he bought them because he sympathised with the vendor.

"When the lottery results were announced, I found out that I'd won a total of 54 million baht of the first-prize money.

"Because I'm a monk, I didn't want this to spread out since it's not appropriate for monks to play the lottery," Phra Kru Sunthornsilawatra said.

The man who sold the winning tickets founds out about his new fortune. He came to the temple and pressed him to give two million baht in exchange for him not telling anyone about the secret, the abbot said.

He said he agreed to give the two million baht to the man, who later brought in a banker in Sri Racha to help transfer the money into his account. He also had to pay 300,000 baht to the banker for his service.

"Even after giving over the money, I was not left in peace because this seller frequently asked me for more money, but I refused and this made him very angry.

"About 10 people led by the lottery seller came to the temple and took me to Sri Racha police station and they accused me of owing them from several tens of thousands of baht to millions of baht," Phra Kru Sunthornsilawatra said.

He said he later found out all these accusers were also lottery sellers.

There was no way he could have owed these vendors such a large amount of money, and he knew they were making false accusations, he said.

"I've decided to file a complaint now because I can't take it anymore and the issue is getting out of hand when one lottery seller pushed me towards a woman. 

"I'm a senior monk who was going to be promoted in the area, but because of these people the district chief invited me in for questioning.

"I can't stay still because they won't stop, so I'm asking for help from the lawyer and the media," the abbot said.

Mr Songkran said he suspected that a group of people including state officials was beind the blackmail.

"When these people learn about monks with lots of money they create awkward situations, because they know that monks can't retaliate and will pay them in the end," he said.

The Chon Buri Provincial Court will summon all parties for questioning in January next year, he added.

Related search: monk, lottery, blackmail, buddhism

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Writer: Pongpat Wongyala and Wassayos Ngamkham