Abbots answer temple embezzlement charges
Monks deny involvement in diversion of funds at temples in Lop Buri and Nonthaburi
published : 11 Jun 2022 at 20:41
writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
Two senior monks in Lop Buri and Nonthaburi provinces have reported to police to answer charges in connection with a temple fund embezzlement scandal.
Phra Thep Senabodi, the abbot of Wat Kawisararam in Lop Buri, and Phra Udomsitthinayok, the abbot of Wat Bang Oychang in Bang Kruay district of Nonthaburi, met on Saturday with Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, commander of the police Anti-Corruption Division (ACD) and police investigators.
They denied any involvement in embezzlement and money-laundering in the scandal involving former senior officials at the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) and monks. They were later released after hearing the charges.
Phra Thep Senabodi, also the Lop Buri provincial monastic chief, was questioned about 30 million baht that the NOB had given the temple in 2014 to support the education of monks and novices. However, the police investigation found that the money had not been used for the stated in objective.
The abbot claimed the money had been used to finance the extension of Winitsuksa School under the temple’s care. But investigators said they found irregularities in the use of the temple fund.
In the case of Phra Udomsitthinayok, also the deputy provincial monastic chief in Nonthaburi, investigators said there was graft in connection with use of a 13-million-baht fund allocated by the NOB in 2013 to Wat Bang Oychang to support Phra Pariyadham School. The investigation found that the temple had never received a permit to set up the dhamma-teaching school.
As well, the NOB had allocated budgets worth about 18.5 million baht to support other projects at the temple. But the temple had never carried out the projects as stated in the original funding proposal it made to the Office.
The investigators found that Phra Udomsittinayok had withdrawn 23.5 million baht in total and returned the money to Boonlert Sopha, a former director of the Office, who was sentenced to jail in 2020 for his involvement as a kickback negotiator.
Phra Udomsittinayok, the abbot of Wat Bang Oychang in Bang Kruay district of Nonthaburi, is interrogated over alleged temple fund embezzlement on Saturday at the police Anti-Corruption Division.