Ayutthaya temple denies misappropriating state subsidy

The abbot of Wat Phanunchoeng in Ayutthaya today denied having any involvement in the misappropriation of the 13 million baht state subsidy after it is among 12 temples that received the funds and is being questioned by Counter Corruption Division police.

In defending his innocence, the abbot was ready to cooperate with the police to probe into the scandal, said Mr Somsak Thoraksa, the lawyer of the temple.

According to the abbot's disclosure, Mr Somsak said the temple did not request any subsidy from the Office of the National Buddhism.

It was approached and offered 10 million baht by the office's director of Buddhism Affairs Ms Pranom Kongpikul in 2014 and 5 million baht in 2015.

At that time the temple was in need of funds to renovate and construct more buildings.

However in the first offer, the abbot was told to transfer 8 million baht to an account of a woman by the name of Mrs Chompunut Chanruchai.

At first when the money was transferred to the temple's account, the abbot instead asked her if the money was clean, and was assured that it was clean, the lawyer said.

She even claimed the money would be used to help other rural temples that were in need.

In the second offer, she asked that 2 million baht be transferred back to her account.

The lawyer said the abbot insisted of his innocence, not knowing of any irregularity in spending the state subsidies.

The abbot has filed a complaint with the police accusing the director of fraud, the lawyer added.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)