Ex-monk 'withdrew Bt300m'

national July 16, 2013 00:00

By Piyanut Tumnukasetchai
The Na

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Wirapol could face money-laundering charges, DSI says



Wirapol Sukpol, better known as Luang Pu Nenkham, has reportedly almost emptied his 41 bank accounts by withdrawing up to Bt300 million. He has allegedly only left a total of about Bt3 million in his accounts.

Meanwhile, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has said a warrant for the arrest of the former monk will be issued tomorrow and officials will look into all donations to see if money laundering has been going on.

Narong Rattananugul, adviser to the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), said investigators from his office as well as those from the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) had asked banks at which Wirapol opened his 41 accounts, to report on all transactions in retrospect.

They will also check the former monk’s relations with major donors to see if the money was handed over for merit-making purposes. It was initially reported that the 41 accounts now only have about Bt3 million – down from about Bt300 million. So, officials would investigate the transfers and try to retrieve the missing funds, he said.

Later yesterday, AMLO deputy chief Saowanee Sawaengpol said the agency could not yet confirm if the money in Wirapol’s accounts had indeed been withdrawn. AMLO is due to hold a meeting on the issue on Friday.

But Saowanee confirmed that if the money has been hidden from the authorities, then the ex-monk could face money-laundering charges and the cash would be confiscated, if was deemed to have come from fraudulent activities. She said AMLO planned to contact the United States’ Financial Intelligence Unit to help seize the ex-monk’s assets there.

DSI’s Security Crime Bureau chief Pong-in Intarakhao said inquiries into the ex-monk’s transactions showed that Khantitham Kaona Co Ltd, which sold amulets, and some of his foundations were reportedly used as “transit points” before money went into his personal accounts.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said he ordered investigators to conduct an in-depth study of all cash and gold donated to the former monk and to compare it with donation receipts used to get a tax waiver from the Revenue Department.

Besides getting an arrest warrant for rape and other charges, the DSI wants to freeze Wirapol’s bank accounts and seize 70 cars. It will also call on immigration authorities in the US and Europe and have his visas revoked.

 

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