Stolen B63m From Temple Funds Donations Returned to Abbot

On Tuesday, police confiscated about 63 million baht that the Wat Huai Duan’s caretaker and two associates had allegedly stolen from donated temple funds and handed the money back to the abbot.

Nakhon Sawan governor Chayant Sirimas led a group of senior police officers to arrest the suspects and returned the embezzled money to 100-year-old Phra Ratchamongkhol Watcharacharn or Luang Phor Phat Panyakamo, abbot of Wat Huai Duan temple, also known as Tharn Thaharn, located in Nong Bua district.

Police launched the investigation in response to a complaint made by Luang Phor Phat’s followers on October 26, Central Investigation Bureau Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jiraphob Bhuridej said.

The complainants alleged that those in charge of the temple’s assets were not trustworthy and accused them of embezzling the money donated for the religious ceremonies, temple development, and the abbot’s medical care.

According to Anti-Corruption Division Commander Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, investigators discovered that three people had transferred 63,034,470 baht from the temple’s donated money to seven personal bank accounts.

The suspects were later identified as Sanoh Thongpron, the temple’s caretaker, Chayanya Phetsaibua, and Booncherd Sukchit.

Authorities froze their bank accounts, confiscated the funds, and retrieved some documents for examination. After the police asked Mr. Sanoh and the two women to explain the money sources during the interrogation, the trio admitted that it belonged to the abbot, Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat explained.

The suspects signed the approval for the funds’ withdrawal from their bank accounts and for the money’s return to the abbot, he added.

Police reports showed investigators had frozen another bank account with 7.9 million baht, operated by Mr. Sanoh, to analyze whether that money had also been embezzled from the temple’s donations.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat said police would take legal action against offenders based on evidence, adding that officers will not exclude anyone from the charges.

“The first step is that the officers take back the embezzled money and return it to the temple. As for charges against the people involved, the investigation will be sped up and the report passed to the National Anti-Corruption Commission within 30 days for further action,” he said.

Luang Phor Phant, who is highly respected and has many followers, reportedly receives more than 100 million baht in donations every year. Besides using the money to organize ceremonies, he distributes the funds to other temples, schools, and hospitals.