Senior monk accused of embezzling temple funds

Senior monk accused of embezzling temple funds

A former asset manager of a temple in Bangkok has renewed a complaint he made against the temple's current abbot, accusing him of embezzling 95 million baht and disposing of a partially cremated corpse into the Chao Phraya River.

Channarong Phiandi, former asset manager and lay accountant of Wat Sutthi Wararam, on Thursday gave his statement to a committee appointed by Bangkok's office of the provincial chief monk to investigate the allegations.

The allegations were initially lodged with the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) in 2019 when a probe was carried out. But some senior monks interfered with the probe, trying to get the abbot off the hook, Mr Channarong said.

Preliminary findings were changed from the abbot being the only person involved in the withdrawal of the 95 million baht from the temple's account to findings where the money had been withdrawn by three people, he said.

That prompted him to file another complaint with the Office of the Prime Minister over the alleged embezzlement early last month, which has led to the new investigation, he said.

He said he was an asset manager/lay accountant at the temple between 2013 and 2019. He said he learned about the incompletely cremated corpse being dumped into the river in 2018, and later in 2019 learned about the alleged embezzlement of temple funds.

He said he was fired by the abbot after filing an NOB complaint over the alleged embezzlement.

Phra Sutheerattanabundit, the abbot, insisted his innocence was proven in a previous NOB investigation.

He said the 95 million baht was withdrawn under proper permission by a temple committee for agricultural promotion and monastery construction projects.



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