THE National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will shortly forward charges to public prosecutors against three former senior officials of the National Office of Buddhism who are accused of stealing money from a temple’s state grants.
The indictments against Nopparat Benjawatananan, Phanom Sornsilp and Pranom Kongpikul, former directors and deputy director of the Office of National Buddhism (NOB), were endorsed by a NACC subcommittee tasked to take criminal action against the alleged wrongdoers.
The three ex-officials were alleged to have embezzled Bt20 million of financial subsidies granted to Wat Panuncherng in Ayutthaya province.
The case files will be sent to the Office of Attorney-General, which will be responsible for filing the lawsuit against the three.
Surasak Kirivichien, an NACC commissioner, said embezzling state subsidies was done in two forms, with money either being transferred to private bank accounts or taken in cash. The methods used at Wat Panuncherng have been similarly used to cheat state subsidies granted to other temples nationwide.
The subsidies are generally intended for temple maintenance and repair work.
Some of the accused have already fled the country, he said, adding that some temples were given only Bt200,000 each, while the remainder of subsidies amounting to Bt5 million to Bt10 million per temple had gone missing.
Nopparat, a former director of the Office of National Buddhism, reportedly fled to the US earlier this year.
According to the law, if temples do not want the funds provided by the government, authorities have to return whatever they do not need.
In February this year, the National Council for Peace and Order issued an order under Article 44 of the interim charter to remove Phanom from the post of director.