Tue, May 24, 2022

in-focus

Buddhism office sets up team focused on Dhammachayo’s surrender


THE National Office of Buddhism (NOB) has set up a team to negotiate the surrender of Phra Dhamma-chayo, the fugitive abbot of Wat Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani.

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang yesterday urged the embattled monk to give himself up and enter the justice system to avoid officers having to enter the temple to arrest him. 
He added that the NOB team would ask the abbot to surrender under monastic law. 
However, the acting abbot of Wat Dhammakaya has not replied to a letter from the DSI asking if Phra Dhammachayo was still in the monastic compound. If the abbot was in the compound, it was the acting abbot’s duty to hand him over to DSI investigators, Paisit said.
Phra Dhammachayo faces charges of money laundering and receiving stolen assets linked to an embezzlement case involving the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC).
Commenting yesterday on the abbot’s new arrest warrant – related to the World Peace Valley Khao Yai monastic retreat that allegedly encroaches on state-owned land in Nakhon Ratchasima – deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahanakul said police were positive they could detain the abbot within three months. He said police also urged the acting abbot to surrender Phra Dhammachayo to police by today or face the charge of harbouring a fugitive.
Meanwhile, former KCUC executives Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, Saranya Manmad and Thongpin Kanlorm pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and laundering Bt1.4 billion in cooperation with Phra Dhammachayo yesterday at Ratchadapisek Criminal Court.
According to the lawsuit, the three committed offences on various occasions including fraud and corruption to seek illegitimate gains from the cooperative. 
The lawsuit said the suspects had drawn up bogus loan contracts for more than Bt11.8 billion between the KCUC as the lender and 28 companies and groups of people as borrowers from January 2008 to February 2011, while conspiring to doctor KCUC financial records. The lawsuit said records showed the KCUC made profits between 2009 and 2012 when it in fact suffered losses. 
The lawsuit also said Supachai and Saranya transferred 30 cheques worth at least Bt1.4 billion to the bank account of their accomplices. 
Saranya and Thongpin surrendered to DSI officers on November 28 and have been detained at the Central Women Correctional Institution in Bangkok. Supachai has already been convicted and is currently serving a 16-year jail term in a related criminal case. 
After the three pleaded not guilty yesterday, the judge assigned an evidence review session for January 30.

Published : December 01, 2016

By : Piyanuch Tamnukasetchai, Suriya Patathayo, Kesinee Taengkhieo The Nation