Ex-monk drops fraud appeal

Ex-monk drops fraud appeal

Wirapol Sukphol facing up to 20 years

Wirapol Sukphol, formerly known as Phra Nen Kham, has dropped his appeal in a fraud case after being convicted of both fraud and the rape of an underage girl.

The former monk agreed to rescind his appeal and is now facing up to 20 years in prison for the fraud conviction.

The Criminal Court on Aug 9 last year sentenced Wirapol to 114 years in prison for deceiving 29 people into donating to disaster relief projects and the construction of what he claimed would be the world's biggest Buddha image.

Instead, he used the money to buy a private jet and luxury automobiles.

The 114-year sentence includes an 87-year jail term for public fraud, three years for crimes committed through a computer and 24 years for money laundering.

However, the court capped his maximum jail term at 20 years, as required under Section 91 of the Criminal Code for multiple offences.

The court also ordered him to compensate the 29 complainants for their financial losses.

Wirapol was previously a monk at Wat Pa Khantitham in Kanthararom district, Si Sa Ket province.

In July 2017, prosecutors told the court that from Feb 17, 2009, to June 27, 2013, Wirapol had been telling people the deity Indra spoke to him in his dreams and asked him to build a Buddha image as well as sacred objects and temples.

Among those objects that he was asked to build were the world's largest Buddha image made from emerald imported from Italy, three sets of gold seasonal attire for the Buddha, 199 temple pillars each valued at 300,000 baht, as well as a gold image of himself and more temples in Ubon Ratchathani and Suphan Buri provinces.

He invited people to donate cash, gold and other assets to his projects. He had also claimed that he planned to buy boats from the US to help flood victims.

The ex-monk's illegally acquired money was also found circulating in his 23 bank accounts.

The Civil Court confiscated 43.47 million baht from Nen Kham as he was unable to explain the sources of his wealth.

Wirapol was also found guilty in October last year of repeatedly raping an underage girl over the course of nearly two years, and keeping her separated from her parents.

He had earlier fled to the United States when the Department of Special Investigation wanted to test his DNA during the investigation process.

The US allowed his extradition to Thailand in July 2017 and he has been in custody since then.

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