Counter-Corruption Division officers searched Nakhon Pathom's famous Wat Rai Khing on Tuesday morning after a tip-off about a luxury car that might have been linked to the temple fund embezzlement scandal.
CCD investigation superintendent Pol Colonel Panya Klaprasert, and his deputy Pol Colonel Athikhom Apichayanukulkij, led the team at 7.30am to search a large monks’ residence building where the luxury car was believed to be kept. It was suspected that the vehicle had been bought with money embezzled by National Office of Buddhism officials.
Abbot assistant Phra Rattanasuthee (Ruam Kloy-arun) demanded to see the credentials of the officers before leading them to inspect a Bt1.95 million Mercedes-Benz Vito van, a Toyota van, a Chevrolet sedan, and a Mercedes-Benz S280 sedan.
The first three vehicles were registered under Phra Rattanasuthee's name while the fourth was registered to his 45-year-old chauffeur, Wanchai Jindawong.
Phra Rattanasuthee told the officers that the vehicles had been bought legally and donated for the temple's use by devout disciples. He said the Mercedes-Benz S280 sedan was put under Wanchai's name for convenience in renewing car registration and other documents.
The monk also agreed to give further information at the CCD office on Friday.
Wanchai said police might be looking for a black van that someone at the National Office of Buddhism had sent to the temple for use on a trial basis three years ago.
He said that vehicle broke down on the first day of use and it was sent back.