Govt probes ordination funds scam

Govt probes ordination funds scam

A probe has been opened into allegations the culture office in Phichit misappropriated state funds intended for a novice monk ordination programme, according to the Culture Ministry.

The ministry was looking into the claim that has been reported in the media and launched a probe into the matter, said Yupa Thaweewattanakitworn, deputy culture permanent secretary and ministry spokeswoman. She said it was alleged the state budget earmarked for the annual ordination of novice monks had been distributed to select temples in the province.

The project, which kicked off on April 2, was to mark Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn's birthday, which fell on the day.

However, after the fund was given to the temples, some provincial culture officials had allegedly asked for the money to be transferred in full back to the culture office, according to two senior monks. The monks are Phra Palad Toi, secretary of the Sangha branch in the district of Bang Mun Nak, and Phra Khru Phisai Nimmankarn, abbot of Wat Dong Plub in the district of Wang Sai Phun. The monks said each temple received 10,000 baht each for the ordination project.

The monks said the culture office officials said their "boss" needed the money back to finance the production of Covid-19 relief bags to be handed to residents. The officials first asked for 2,000 baht to be wired back to the office. A few hours later, the officials said the "boss" wanted the remaining 8,000 baht back as well.

The monks said they suspected something was amiss and refused to transfer the money. The officials requested the money transfer without producing a letter to back up the request.

Meanwhile, Ms Yupa said the probe team comprises legal experts.

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