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Abbot who embezzled 69.7 million baht gets fines, suspended sentence

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PHOTO: Thongchai Sukkho, former abbot of Golden Mount temple, arrives at the Central Criminal Court in Bangkok yesterday - Somchai Poomlard, Bangkok Post

An ex-abbot of Wat Sa Ket (Golden Mount Temple), found guilty of embezzling 69.7 million baht in temple funds, has been fined 27,000 baht and given a jail term of 36 months, suspended. The sentence was handed down at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases yesterday. The court found 64 year old Thongchai Sukkho guilty of “malfeasance.”

Prosecutors told the court that Thongchai conspired with former officials of the National Office of Buddhism (NOB), funneling 69.7 million baht to Wat Sa Ket, the only temple to receive such an amount from the office’s 5.36-billion-baht budget in 2016. The court found that the money was embezzled for personal use.

However, the court suspended the former abbot’s jail term for two years because he “had promoted Buddhism” and  had “never previously breached Buddhist rules.”

Thongchai was among several former members of the Sangha Supreme Council arrested in 2018 for temple fund embezzlement, according to the Bangkok Post. The same case also involved four other defendants, all executives of the NOB: former director Phanom Sornsilp; former deputy director Chayapol Pongseeda; former director for Buddhism promotion Narongdet Chaiyanet, and former academic official Pattana Su-ammatmontree.

Phanom was sentenced to two years and 12 months and the three other defendants got three years and 18 months.

COURCE: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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