Corruption watchdog faults 4 ex-officials of malfeasance related to temple fund fraud

Four former senior officials of the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) have been faulted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for malfeasance in office and disciplinary violations in connection with allocation of fund for temple repairs and renovation totaling six million baht.

The four officials were identified as Mr Nopparat Benjawattananant, former NOB director; Mr Panom Sornsilp, former NOB director; Mr Chalermphol Meesilarat, former director of the Division of Buddhist Venues; and Mr Wasawat Kittithirasit, former director for temple repairs and development and religious welfare.

NACC secretary-general Worawit Sookboon said Tuesday that the four ex-NOB officials were involved in the the approval twice of three million baht fund each time to Wat Phra Buddhabat Takpa on December 25, 2012 and on February 12, 2013.

But after the money, totaling six million baht, was transferred to the temple's account by the NOB, the abbot of the temple was instructed to transfer almost all the money, amounting to 5,799,940 baht to Phra Sutthipong, the abbot of a Thai temple in Denmark.

Mr Worawit said that the fund allocation on two occasionsthree million baht eachdid not meet the legal requirements of the NOB and the minutes of the meetings of the panel responsible for considering the fund allocation were false.

He disclosed that the former NOB director, Mr Nopparat, personally met with the abbot of Wat Phra Buddhabat Takpa to inform the latter about the transfer of the two amounts of the fund into the temple's bank account and, later on, into the bank account of the Thai temple in Denmark.

Regarding Phra Sutthipong, the abbot of the Thai temple in Denmark, Mr Worawit said the monk was not an official and, therefore, was regarded as a supporter in accordance with the Criminal Code.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)