Temple told to pay KCUC B58 million

Temple told to pay KCUC B58 million

Dhammakaya to give back embezzled cash

Supachai: More money to pay back
Supachai: More money to pay back

The Civil Court has ordered Wat Phra Dhammakaya and its affiliate, the Ubasika Chandra Foundation, to return more than 58 million baht to the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC).

In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, the court said the money, currently spread across four bank accounts, must be returned because it is part of a much larger sum embezzled by former KCUC chairman Supachai Srisupa-aksorn.

The accounts were registered under the names of the temple and foundation.

Supachai has been in prison since 2016 for offences stemming from the embezzlement.

The Criminal Court initially handed down a 16-year jail sentence for siphoning off 22.1 million baht from the KCUC on eight occasions from April 10 to Oct 8, 2013. The Appeal Court later reduced the term to seven years in light of his cooperation.

Following the criminal proceedings, prosecutors asked the Civil Court to approve the seizure of the 58 million baht.

The KCUC, temple and foundation all challenged the request and the court ruled in favour of the cooperative.

It claimed the money came from members' deposits and other lawful investments.

The temple and foundation said they were never involved with KCUC's operations. Both claimed the money sought by the prosecution was donated by others and was not laundered or transferred to conceal its source.

In its ruling, the court said Supachai authorised cheque payments worth 1.458 billion baht from the KCUC over a period of years and there were grounds to believe it was related to embezzlement. Some of the money went to the temple and the foundation.

The court also said Wat Phra Dhammakaya and the Ubasika Chandra Foundation repeatedly avoided reporting financial transactions in a manner deemed underhand and designed to conceal where the money came from.

Moreover, the court said there were grounds to believe both were linked to Supachai via the temple's former abbot, who appointed Supachai to supervise its assets.

According to the court, the temple and foundation failed to convince the court Supachai's donation was made in good faith.

Meanwhile, the Civil Court on Wednesday ordered Supachai to repay 9.64 billion baht he embezzled from the cooperative.

It ruled against Supachai and other former officials of the cooperative.

According to the lawsuit, when Supachai was chairman from Jan 1, 2009 to May 30, 2012 he wrote 878 cheques and withdrew 11.37 billion baht of KCUC funds after lying about the cooperative's profitability.

Some were made out to himself as "payment in advance" but most were for other individuals and companies, including Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

It was the second ruling in a civil case over Supachai's embezzlement of depositors' money at what was one of the country's biggest savings cooperatives.

The Civil Court ruled on the first case in November 2016, ordering Supachai and three others to repay 3.81 billion baht.

The court is hearing two other lawsuits against Supachai, in which prosecutors sought court orders to confiscate assets from him and accomplices worth 1.67 billion baht for alleged public fraud.

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