Abbots Respond to Accusations of Embezzlement of Temple Funds

Abbots Respond to Accusations of Embezzlement of Temple Funds

Monks deny involvement in embezzlement at Lop Buri and Nonthaburi temples

Phra Thep Senabodi, the abbot of Wat Kawisararam in Lop Buri, presented himself to a police investigator from the anti-corruption division on Saturday to admit charges relating to an embezzlement scandal at the temple. (Photo provided)

Two senior monks from Lop Buri and Nonthaburi provinces have come forward to the police to face charges related to a temple embezzlement scandal.

Phra Thep Senabodi, the abbot of Wat Kawisararam in Lop Buri, and Phra Udomsitthinayok, the abbot of Wat Bang Oychang in Bang Kruay district of Nonthaburi, met on Saturday Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, commander of the anti-corruption division (ACD ) and police investigators.

They have denied any involvement in embezzlement and money laundering in the scandal involving former senior National Board of Buddhism (NOB) officials and monks. They were later released after hearing the charges.

Phra Thep Senabodi, also provincial monastic head of Lop Buri, was asked about the 30 million baht the NOB gave to the temple in 2014 to support the education of monks and novices. However, the police investigation revealed that the money was not used for the stated purpose.

The abbot claimed that the money was used to finance the extension of the Winitsuksa school under the care of the temple. But investigators said they found irregularities in the use of the temple fund.

In the case of Phra Udomsitthinayok, also deputy provincial monastic head in Nonthaburi, investigators said there was corruption related to the use of a 13 million baht fund allocated by the NOB in 2013 to Wat Bang Oychang to support the Phra Pariyadham school. Investigation revealed that the temple never received a permit to establish the Dhamma Teaching School.

Additionally, the NOB had allocated budgets of around 18.5 million baht to support other projects at the temple. But the temple had never completed the projects as stated in the original funding proposal it made to the Bureau.

Investigators found that Phra Udomsittinayok withdrew a total of 23.5 million baht and returned the money to Boonlert Sopha, a former director of the Bureau, who was sentenced to prison in 2020 for his involvement as a negotiator bribes.

Phra Udomsittinayok, the abbot of Wat Bang Oychang in Bang Kruay district of Nonthaburi, is being questioned on Saturday over the alleged embezzlement of funds from the temple to the police’s anti-corruption division.

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