Former monk denies embezzling 180 million baht from Nakhon Ratchasima temple

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

A former monk and two other individuals have been arrested on suspicion of embezzling 180 million baht from Wat Pha Dhammakiri in Nakhon Ratchasima. The accused ex-monk, Khom Khongkeaw, previously known as Phra Ajarn Khom Abhivaro, denies the allegations. During police questioning, Khom and his sister claimed that the money was used for “other purposes,” and that they had no intention of embezzling it. Reports have suggested that funds were transferred to his sister’s bank account.

The trio, which includes Wutthima, a former Phra Mor, are currently being held at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), according to CSD commander Pol Maj Gen Montri Thetkhan. It is anticipated that the suspects will be presented before the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases shortly.

Pol Maj Gen. Montri revealed that the investigation into the financial transactions has been slow due to state agencies being closed during extended holidays. However, he expects further progress this week when investigators appointed by the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Clergy are scheduled to inspect the temple’s treasury.

Khom, a renowned meditation expert, was arrested last week alongside the two other suspects for allegedly embezzling the funds from Wat Pha Dhammakiri, where he was based. One donation was reportedly given to Wutthima, a former temple abbot, who then passed it on to Khom’s sister. She is accused of depositing some of the money in Khom’s account while retaining the rest for herself.

The case is now overseen by the CSD under the supervision of the Investigation Bureau, following a report from the National Office of Buddhism about the alleged embezzlement. The suspects face charges of embezzlement and abuse of duty, with Khom’s sister also accused of receiving stolen goods.

There are additional allegations that Khom engaged in sexual relationships with his followers. He was defrocked today.

In a separate development, social media influencer and former monk Praiwan “Peary” Wannabut commented on Khom’s arrest. Praiwan warned that some high-profile monks could deceive their followers for personal gain, reports Bangkok Post.

Thailand News

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.