Four senior monks have been accused of fraud in connection with the embezzlement of a state fund for the maintenance and development of Wat Lat Khae in Chon Daen district of Phetchabun province.
On Sept 24, police from the Counter Corruption Division (CCD) went to Wat Lat Khae to invite Phra Khru Kittipatcharakhun, the temple’s abbot, to hear charges to be filed against him.
However, Phra Khru Kittipatcharakhun was not at the temple. Monks at the temple said the abbot had gone away for about three days and nobody knew of his whereabouts.
The CCD police asked Phra Palad Saijai Kittipanyo, the assistant abbot, to hand a letter to the abbot, inviting him to report to the CCD for questioning.
The three other monks accused of involvement in this embezzlement case are Phra Ratratanamunee, an assistant abbot of Wat Pichayayatikaram Voraviharn, Phra Thepsenabodi, the abbot of Wat Kawisaram Ratchavoraviharn, and Phra Khru Wisuthiwattanakij, an assistant abbot of Wat Ratsitharam Ratchavoraviharn.
Prime Minister’s Office Minister Ormsin Chivapruck, who oversees the National Office of Buddhism (NOB), said that apart from criminal action the NOB will also report their alleged wrongdoings to the Supreme Sangha Council for further disciplinary action.
The four monks will be charged with violating Section 86 of the Criminal Code for assisting or facilitating wrongdoings; Section 147 for embezzlement which carries penalties of 5-20 years in jail or life imprisonment and a fine of between 2,000 – 40,000 baht; and Section 157 for dereliction of duty, which carries jail term of one to twenty years and/or a fine of between 2,000-20,000 baht.
In the first round of investigations, the CCD found the embezzlement of state funds at 12 temples during the years 2012-2016, which caused about 60 million baht in damages and involved 10 suspects.
In the second round of investigations, the CCD found the embezzlement at 23 temples during 2012-2017, which caused about 141 million baht in damages and involved 19 suspects, one of them Panom Sornsilp, a former NOB director.