Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations, the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, will soon be issuing an arrest summons for devoted Buddhist Monk, Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni from Wat Phra Dhammakaya, who now stands accused of receiving stolen property and money laundering. The allegations stem from illegal donations made to the Dhammakaya temple by the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC)’s Chairman Supachai Srisupa-aksorn four years ago.
Srisupa-aksorn was convicted of embezzling more than 11 billion baht in member funds and is currently serving a 16-year sentence. Shortly after the trial ended, the Wat Phra Dhammakaya agreed to a 684-million-baht repayment settlement reached in Thanyaburi Provincial Court. When the circumstances of the Klongchan embezzlement case were made known to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, supporters set up an emergency fund in the amount of 600 million baht, roughly equal to the amount Supachai donated to the temple, in an attempt to help depositors by supplying funds to the credit union’s cash flow.
The original donations were unsolicited and earmarked to build religious structures and to assist with the operating expenses of the temple, which is the largest in Thailand, with more than one million devotees and a large community of resident monks and novices. At the time of the original donations, there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Supachai also donated to other temples, schools, universities, public charities and government sectors.
Inaccurate reports have appeared in the media suggesting that the Wat Phra Dhammakaya supports the Pheu Thai Party. While the temple has many devotees from different ages, genders, regions, occupations and political views, its primary focus is strictly teaching the Dhamma of Lord Buddha, and it has no intention to be involved in politics. Interestingly, no other group that knowingly or unknowingly benefitted from the embezzled funds has to date been charged, suggesting that Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni is being singled out by the DSI.