Another disciple of late abbot Somdej Phra Wannarat of Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara is suspected of playing a hand in the embezzlement of 32 million baht of funds from two branch temples in Trat.
According to a source at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), police have checked irregularities in the finances of Wat Rattanawararam and Wat Khiri Wihan after they learnt the two branch temples were also embezzled by Apirat Jayankura Na Ayudhya, a close aide of the late abbot, on Wednesday.
The money was intended to build Wat Rattanawararam and a school at Wat Khiri Wihan.
From checking the transaction records of both temples from last year, police discovered Mr Apirat had transferred 20 million baht from Wat Rattanawararam and 12 million baht from Wat Khiri Wihan to his personal bank account.
Officers also ascertained that some money belonging to the temples had been transferred to another person, whose name was not given. The suspect was, however, known to be a close acquaintance of the late abbot and one of his disciples who oversaw the financial management of both temples.
Police will keep investigating to find out why the suspect withdraw the money and determine whether he was working in cahoots with Mr Apirat.
Mr Apirat was arrested at a condo in Bangkok on March 23.
Wat Wachira Thamma Ram in Ayutthaya, one of Wat Bowon Niwet's branches, initially found irregularities in the temple's assets that were later linked to his activities. A complaint was lodged with the CSD on March 22.
Mr Apirat was found to have repeatedly transferred money from the temple's bank accounts to his own.
The investigation uncovered a wealth of goods including a Bentley, Porsche, BMW, Volvo, Lexus, cash, multiple bank accounts, designer bags and expensive gold-plated amulets worth millions of baht.
Of the nine luxury cars, only a few were registered under Mr Apirat's name. Documents show the others belonged to Mr Apirat's family members and a male partner.