The chief monk at Wat Sutthi Wararam Buddhist temple in Bangkok yesterday insisted he is innocent of any embezzlement charges after a renewed complaint was made against him.
The temple’s former accountant, Channarong Phiandi, has made a fresh complaint against the abbot, Phra Sutheerattanabundit, maintaining he embezzled 95 million baht and disposed of a partially cremated corpse into the Chao Phraya River, which runs through Bangkok.
A committee, appointed by Bangkok’s office of the provincial chief monk to investigate the allegations, received a new statement from Channarong yesterday.
Channarong made it known that the original allegations were lodged with the National Office of Buddhism in 2019 but revealed some senior monks interfered with the investigation in the hope of exonerating the abbot.
The original investigation found that the abbot was the only person who withdrew the money from the temple’s account but strangely that later changed to money being withdrawn by 3 people. The discovery that 3 people were involved in the embezzlement scandal led to the temple’s former accountant lodging another complaint, but this time with the PM’s office.
Channarong says he was the temple’s asset manager/lay accountant between 2013 and 2019. He revealed he learned about the half-cremated corpse being dumped into the river in 2018, and a year later found out about the embezzlement of temple funds.
Channarong said he was fired by the abbot after filing a complaint about the alleged embezzlement.
Phra Sutheerattanabundit continues to maintain his innocence and has been cleared of a previous NOB investigation.
The abbot added the 95 million baht was withdrawn under proper permission by a temple committee for agricultural promotion and monastery construction projects.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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