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Jet-setting monk to set up US monastery (Updated)

Video footage of monk Luang Pu Nen Kham travelling on a private jet carrying an expensive designer bag started a major scandal back in 2013 that eventually led him to flee abroad.

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Fugitive jet-setting monk Luang Pu Nen Kham claims he has officially received permanent residency in the United States and will soon set up a monastery there, according to exiled journalist Jom Petchpradub. The DSI says it has requested his extradition.

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Thursday morning update

According to this morning's Bangkok Post the former monk Luang Pu Nen Kham, who now goes by his layman'a name, Wirapol Sukphol, has been granted permanent residency in the US and is therefore, not considered a refugee as understood yesterday.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has also insisted Wednesday it has formally requested his extradition.

The decision on whether he is sent back to Thailand rests with US authorities, it said.

Wednesday's story

Jet-setting monk gets new life in US

Online Reporters

Fugitive jet-setting monk Luang Pu Nen Kham claims he has officially received refugee status in the United States and will launch a new sect next year in California.

In an interview with exiled Thai journalist Jom Petchpradub, the 36-year-old renegade monk, who goes by the layman name Wirapol Sukphol, said his new American monastery would be registered as a foundation and would be a "new sect" that had nothing to do with Thailand's Sangha Supreme Council.

The founder of the online news outlet Thai Voice Media posted the information in a YouTube video. The monk did not want to be interviewed in front of the camera and Mr Jom simply relayed the answers that Mr Wirapol purportedly told him.

The video, however, showed Mr Wirapol presiding over the laying of the cornerstone for the a pavilion at the Khanti Baramee forest monastery in Lake Elsinore, east of Los Angeles, on Sept 20. A religious ceremony also was held to celebrate his belated birthday two days earlier.

According to Mr Jom's report, Mr Wirapol would start his new life as a monk and had changed his name to Phra Vimuttiyarn.

Mr Wirapol said he still owned a jet, but declined to state its whereabouts.

In 2013, Mr Wirapol gained notoriety following the release of video footage showing him travelling aboard a luxury private jet while still a monk. He also was carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, wore brand-name sunglasses and owned more than 100 luxury cars and a large number of land holdings.

He was reported to have fled Thailand that year and taken refuge in France before moving to the US. He was defrocked in absentia after allegations of his criminal behaviour and high-flying lifestyle had been revealed.

The Department of Special Investigation has pressed seven charges against him, including child abduction, statutory rape, fraud, money laundering and breaching the Computer Crimes Act.

Authorities seized a total of 380 million baht in bank accounts but he was able to take cash and gold out of the country. He told Mr Jom, however, that he has spent about US$30 million to start his new American life.

You can see Mr Jom's Thai-language youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=17&v=foKttjRvkNU

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Vocabulary:

abduction : taking somebody away illegally, especially using force - การลักพาตัว

account (noun): a written record of money that someone has in a bank - บัญชี

Act : a law passed by a country’s government - พ.ร.บ. พระราชบัญญัติ

allegation : an accusation; a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved - ข้อกล่าวหา

authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

behaviour : the way that someone acts or behaves - พฤติกรรม, การกระทำตัว

belated (adj): coming or happening late - ล่าช้า

brand-name : of a well known name of a product, often indicating it is expensive - มียี่ห้อ

breach (verb): to fail to follow a law, rule or agreement - ละเมิดกฎข้อบังคับ, ละเมิดสัญญา

cash : money - เงินสด

ceremony (noun): a formal public event - งานพิธี

claim : to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง

cornerstone (noun): a stone at the corner of the base of a building, often laid in a special ceremony - รากตึก, เสาหลัก

crime : an illegal activity or action - อาชญากรรม

criminal : illegal; against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย

decline : to say politely that you will not accept something or do something - ปฏิเสธ

defrock : to officially remove a monk priest from his job, because he has done something wrong - ทำให้สึกจากการเป็นพระ

Department of Special Investigation : DSI; a police department investigating serious crimes involving influential people, organised crime, or crimes using highly sophisticated technology - กรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษ

exiled : forced to live in a foreign country, usually for political reasons - ที่ถูกเนรเทศ

extradition : sending someone accused of a crime back to the country where the crime was committed for trial or punishment - การส่งผู้ร้ายข้ามแดน

fled (past of flee) : escaped; left an area very quickly because of a danger there - หนีไป

footage : film or video of a particular subject or event - ฟิลม์หรือคลิปภาพยนตร์ หรือวิดีโอ

formally : officially; following an agreed or official way of doing things - อย่างเป็นทางการ

foundation : an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity - มูลนิธิ

founder (noun): a person who establishes an institution, business, or organisation - ผู้ก่อตั้ง

fraud : the crime of intentionally deceiving someone or cheating in order to gain an advantage or benefit - การฉ้อโกง การหลอกลวง เล่ห์เพทุบาย

fugitive (noun): someone who has been accused of doing something illegal and is trying to avoid being caught by the police - ผู้หลบหนี

in absentia : while not present at the event being referred to - ไม่อยู่, ไม่ปรากฏตัว

insist : to keep saying very firmly that something is true - ยืนกราน ยืนยัน

interview : a meeting (often a public one) at which a person is asked questions in order to find out their opinions, experiences, etc. - การสัมภาษณ์

jet-setting (adj): used to describe rich, fashionable people who travel a lot -

journalist : a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television - ผู้สื่อข่าว

launch (verb): to start something - เริ่มต้น, เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มทำ

layman (noun): a person who is a member of a temple or a church but is not a priest or member of the clergy - สามัญชน

lifestyle : the type of life that you have, for example the type of job or house you have or the type of activity you like doing - วิถีทางการดำเนินชีวิต, ลีลาชีวิต, รูปแบบการดำเนินชีวิต

luxury : the best and most expensive of something - ที่หรูหรา 

media : radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group - สื่อ

monastery : a building or series of buildings in which monks live, worship and work together - วัด, ที่อยู่อาศัยของพร

money laundering : hiding the origin of money obtained from illegal activities by putting it into legal businesses - การฟอกเงิน

notoriety : the state of being famous for something bad - ชื่อเสียงในทางที่ไม่ดี

outlet (noun): a business broadcasting the content of a particular producer - ช่อง

pavilion : a building with open sides at a temple used for sermons or a resting place for the public - ศาลา

permanent residency (noun): a situation where a person is allowed to live indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen -

preside : to be in charge of an official meeting, ceremony or other event - เป็นประธาน ในพิธี ในที่ประชุม

press charges : to accuse someone officially of committing a crime - ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา

private : involving groups, businesses or industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - เอกชน

purportedly : said by some people to be real or true, but not proved to be real or true - ซึ่งอ้างว่า

refugee : someone who leaves their country or living place, especially during a war or other threatening event - ผู้ลี้ภัย

registered (adj): to be on an official list; to be on an official list of names of people who are allowed to do something, e.g., vote, study, sell something, stay in a hotel etc - ซึ่งลงทะเบียนไว้

relay : to pass something on (information, money, etc.) from one person or place to another - ส่งผ่าน

release : making known to the public - การเปิดเผย, การปล่อย

renegade (adj): of a person who opposes and lives outside a group or society that they used to belong to - ทรยศ, หักหลัง, ขายชาติ

revealed : made known or showed somthing that was surprising or that was previously secret - เปิดเผย

Sangha : ordained Buddhist monks or nuns - สงฆ์

sect : a small group of people who belong to a particular religion but who have some beliefs or practices which separate them from the rest of the group - นิกาย (ทางศาสนา),กลุ่ม, พรรค

seized : taken away by force or official power - ถูกยึกครอง

state : to formally write or say something, especially in a careful and clear way - บอกกล่าว, แถลง, กล่าว

status : official or legal position - สถานภาพ

statutory rape (noun): the crime of having sex with somebody who is not legally old enough -

take refuge : to go to a place which provides protection or shelter from danger or trouble - ลี้ภัย

whereabouts : where someone is - ที่อยู่,สถานที่,ตำแหน่งที่

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