Authorities are planning to charge foundations and monks of Wat Phra Dhammakaya with money laundering to reclaim billions of baht for victims of embezzled Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative.
Kajonsak Phutthanuparp, deputy chief of the Office of the Attorney-General's investigation department, said on Thursday that public prosecutors recommended the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) seek a court ruling to dissolve the temple's Khun Yay Maharatana Upasika Chandra Khonnokyoong Foundation and confiscate its assets.
He said Wat Phra Dhammakaya owned only 196 rai of land in Pathum Thani province and the rest of the compound belonged to the foundation. Earlier reports indicated the temple covered about 2,000 rai in Khlong Luang district of Pathum Thani.
Investigation showed that the foundation had laundered money since it received money from KCUC and would face legal action, Mr Kajonsak said.
He also said that Wat Phra Dhammakaya had many other foundations play similar roles as the Khun Yay Maharatana Upasika Chandra Khonnokyoong Foundation.
Pol Lt Col Pakorn Sucheevakul, director of the DSI's Bureau of Financial, Banking and Money Laundering Crime, said there was also enough evidence to charge the foundation's chair Wanna Jirakitti with collusion and conspiracy in money-laundering in the same case.
"Money was donated to Phra Dhammajayo [fugitive former abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya] and forwarded to the foundation to pay for the globe-shaped building worth 700-800 million baht and the external corridor worth 700 million baht of the temple," he said.
"Besides, 325 million baht was donated directly to the foundation and more money was transferred to 30 monks in its network who spent it on land and shares," Pol Lt Col Pakorn said.
DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang said authorities hoped buildings related to Wat Phra Dhammakaya would be confiscated and auctioned off to return money to the affected members of KCUC.
Former KCUC chairman Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who had been the treasurer of the temple, had embezzled about 12 billion baht from the cooperative during 2009-13 and the DSI had reclaimed about 5.3 billion baht -- 1.5 billion baht in cash and 3.8 billion baht in assets -- for the KCUC member, Pol Col Paisit said.