Money Laundering, Thailand Probes New Cases Involving Buddhist Temple’s Money
Mar 16, 2017 01:25 PM EDT
Thailand has launched investigation into three new cases involving possible financial crimes at the country's biggest Buddhist temple. An influential former abbot from the temple is wanted as a suspect for money laundering, police announced on Wednesday.
The 72-year-old former abbot, Phra Dhammachayo, is wanted for money laundering and numerous other charges of building on land without authorisation. Thai police have also discovered some form of financial crime in Dhammakaya temple's financial activities and possibly, some of the temple's money had been invested in the stock market.
"Billions of baht were found to have been transferred from the temple's bank account since 2009 for an individual to invest in stocks," Police Colonel Pakorn Sucheewakul said, according to ABS-CBN News. He added that the investigation pertaining the money laundering was ongoing, along with two other financial cases involving suspected embezzled money from Klongchan Credit Union that lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Those cases apparently involved the credit union's transfers of money to one of the temple's many foundations and temple branches across the country. Phra Pasura Dantamano, the temple's senior monk, denied the allegations, saying that none of the Dhammakaya monks were involved in stock trading.
The temple search was ended last week, after laying siege to it for more than three weeks without finding Phra Dhammachayo. The police, however, have promised that they would still try to track him down in order to continue the money laundering investigation.
Meanwhile, following the money laundering, traditionalist Buddhists accuse the temple of commercialism and say it has put Nirvana up for sale. According to FirstPost, the weeks-old standoff at the Dhammakaya temple between thousands of police and saffron-robed monks has also posed one of the greatest challenges to the military government since it took power in the midst of opposition in 2014.