6 June 2024

Five former monks and a driver of the Pa Thamma Khiri monastery in Thailand’s north-eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima were escorted to the provincial court today (Thursday) by Crime Suppression Division (CSD) officers to seek their further detention.

All five monks were defrocked and detained two days ago, along with the driver, after they were charged by the police over the embezzlement of more than 300 million baht in public donations to the monastery. All have denied the charges.

The former abbot of the monastery, Phra Khom, his sister, Chuthatip and another former monk, Phra Mor, had already been arrested for suspected embezzlement. About 180 million baht in cash, gold bars and ornaments were found in their possession, as well as bank account books of Phra Khom and Chuthatip.

Police later searched the compound of the monastery and found 76 million baht in cash, about 331 troy ounces of gold in bars and ornaments, worth about 22 million baht, after questioning five monks and a driver.

According to CSD commander, Pol Maj-Gen Montri Thetkhan, they were asked by the National Office of Buddhism to investigate allegations of embezzlement of public donations and misconduct by the abbot at the monastery.

Statements provided by some monks led to the discovery of the embezzled public donations.