Former monk denies theft of temple funds
Money used for 'other purposes'
published : 8 May 2023 at 04:07
newspaper section: News
writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
A former monk, arrested with two others for allegedly embezzling 180 million baht from Wat Pha Dhammakiri in Nakhon Ratchasima during his tenure there, denied the charge during police questioning.
According to Pol Maj Gen Montri Thetkhan, Crime Suppression Division commander, Khom Khongkeaw, formerly known as Phra Ajarn Khom Abhivaro, and his sister said the money was used for "other purposes" and did not intend to embezzle any of it, despite reports saying the funds were transferred to her account.
The two suspects, along with the third -- identified as Wutthima, a former Phra Mor -- are being held at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), Pol Maj Gen Montri said.
The suspects are expected to face the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases by today.
Regarding the financial transaction, Pol Maj Gen Montri said progress was slow, as authorities from state agencies asked to assist the investigation were closed during the long holidays.
Pol Maj Gen Montri said more progress on the matter is expected this week, as investigators appointed by the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Clergy are planning to check the temple's treasury.
Mr Khom, who was a well-known meditation expert, was arrested mid-last week, along with two others, for allegedly embezzling 180 million baht from Wat Pha Dhammakiri, where he was based.
One donation to the temple was allegedly given to Mr Wutthima, a former temple abbot, who then passed it to Mr Khom's sister.
She is said to have put some of the money into Mr Khom's bank account while keeping some for herself.
The case is now being handled by the CSD, under the supervision of the Investigation Bureau after the CIG received a report from the National Office of Buddhism regarding the alleged embezzlement.
The suspects are accused of embezzlement and abuse of duty. Mr Khom's sister is also charged with receiving stolen goods.
Mr Khom is also said to have had a sexual relationship with his followers. He was defrocked on Monday.
Meanwhile, Praiwan "Peary" Wannabut, a former monk who became a social media influencer, commented on Mr Khom's arrest.
Mr Praiwan said that some well-known monks are unreliable as they can trick their followers for personal benefits.