Temple fraud likely rife

Temple fraud likely rife

At least 173 out of 498 cases probed in connection with the 140-million-baht alleged embezzlement from the state grant-in-aid scheme for temples nationwide have been found in preliminary investigations by several concerned state agencies to be true, said the Centre for National Anti-Corruption (CNAC) yesterday.

The 173 cases will be forwarded in the coming week to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for further investigation, and criminal charges may be pressed and disciplinary action ordered against the state officials involved.

The 498 cases had been lodged with and investigated by various state agencies, said PACC secretary-general Prayong Preeyachitt.

The CCD is responsible for compiling the probe findings into the 173 cases for suspects who are officials at the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) for forwarding to the NACC along with a request to pursue criminal charges, said Mr Prayong.

The CCD is also responsible for submitting a report on the investigations into these cases to the CNAC, which will coordinate disciplinary probes against these civil servant suspects, he said.

Those state agencies this group of suspects are working for have the authority to conduct a disciplinary probe against them.

"The unearthed temple fund embezzlement scandal reflects how serious the corruption situation in the bureaucratic system is. It has gone unchecked as there had not been any serious attempt to investigate it in any of the past governments," Mr Prayong said.

Thursday's raids on 14 locations in seven provinces were part of the investigations into the 173 cases, he said.

Among the targeted locations were houses owned by former NOB officials including former NOB director Phanom Sornsilp in Nakhon Pathom's Sam Phran district. The CCD pressed criminal charges against Mr Phanom and two other NOB officials in connection with embezzlement of temple funds.

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