63 million baht in stolen donations returned to revered abbot

Three people, including a temple caretaker, were arrested for allegedly embezzling around 63 million baht donations from a Buddhist temple in the central province Nakhon Sawan. The Bangkok Post reports that the cash has been returned to Wat Huai Duan and police gathered for a formal handover of the more than 63 million baht in cash to the highly respected abbot, 100 year old Phra Ratchamongkhol Watcharacharn.

Police opened an investigation back in late October after receiving a complaint that the donations intended for the temple development, ceremonies, and healthcare for the elderly monk were being embezzled. The abbot, also known as Luang Phor Phat, is revered and has a large following. The Bangkok Post says he receives around 100 million baht per year in donations which he then donates to other temples, hospitals, and schools.

Investigating officers found that millions of baht in temple donations had been transferred to seven personal bank accounts which police say were linked to the temple caretaker and two women. Officers froze the accounts and questioned the three suspects who allegedly admitted that the money belonged to the temple abbot.

Apparently, the suspects had convinced the monk to allow them to transfer the donated funds into personal bank accounts because it would be easier when withdrawing the cash to pay for the construction of a new pagoda, the abbot told police. But once it was time for the caretaker to pay the 15 million baht for the project, he did not have the money.

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The commander of the Anit-Corruption Division says the investigation is ongoing and legal action will be based on evidence.

“The first step is that the officers take back the embezzled money and return it to the temple. As for charges against the people involved, the investigation will be sped up and the report passed to the National Anti-Corruption Commission within 30 days for further action.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

63 million baht in stolen donations returned to revered abbot | News by Thaiger

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