Wat Phra Dhammakaya's land under probe

Wat Phra Dhammakaya's land under probe

As the Department of Special Investigation has not reached Phra Dhammajayo in his headquarters Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani province, its investigators are probing land ownership of the controversial temple nationwide. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)
As the Department of Special Investigation has not reached Phra Dhammajayo in his headquarters Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani province, its investigators are probing land ownership of the controversial temple nationwide. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is looking into land ownerships of the controversial Wat Phra Dhammakaya after an initial probe pointed to possible encroachment on reserved forests.

A source at the department said on Tuesday that it received complaints against the temple's ownerships of land plots in all regions. Preliminary investigation also found some parts of them overlapped with reserved forests.

Complaints have been filed involving the temple's land plots in Khao Yai area of Nakhon Ratchasima province; Koh Yao Noi island of Phangnga province where a religious building was built; and in some areas in Kanchanaburi province, among others, the source said.

It was also revealed that the money from the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative had been distributed to followers to buy since 2002-03. The Crime Suppression Division had investigated the issue and the followers had transferred the land ownerships to the temple, the source said.

DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang on Tuesday admitted the DSI had received complaints from many provinces.

He also said that there was no sign that Phra Dhammajayo would surrender to acknowledge charges of laundering money and receiving stolen property.

He referred to the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani province who was accused of receiving over a billion baht from the embezzled cooperative of which one of his key followers was a chairman.

Pol Col Paisit said the DSI would have to enforce laws or it would face legal complaints.

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