By The Nation
Omsin said he had received a report from the Office of the Auditor-General concluding that about 30 temples had been involved in the scandal.
Officials at the National Office of Buddhism had offered temple restoration funds to temples in exchange for kickbacks, the report said.
Omsin said he had been informed by the Auditor-General that 13 laymen and two monks were involved in the scandal. The suspects included former Buddhism Office directors Phanom Sornsilp and Pranom Kongpikul as well as three or four senior government officials.
He said the National Office of Buddhism had been instructed to take legal action and the suspects, some of whom are active officials, will be suspended from duty pending investigations.
Ormsin said the report from the Auditor-General showed that about Bt300 million had been embezzled over several years since the Buddhism Office was headed by Nopparat Benjawatananan.
“It has been happening according to the same formula. They [officials] told monks that they would give funds for restoring temples, but the monks had to return some of the money. They offered Bt2 million and asked for Bt1.3 million back. Some temples in provinces had only one monk, who might not know about the officials regulations,” Omsin said.
“The monks simply believed what they were told by Buddhism office officials. I am not defending monks but I am speaking about what I read in the report.”