By Piyanuch Thamnukasetchai
The Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative discovered that its former chief Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, who is now serving a jail term for embezzlement, channelled massive sums to the temple, its abbot Phra Dhammachayo, and related monks or foundations.
Since the scandal broke, the temple’s followers have returned Bt704 million to the cooperative and issued advance cheques for Bt350 million.
“But that’s based on evidence that the temple’s network received about Bt1.05 billion from the cooperative,” Prakit Pilangkasa, chair of the cooperative’s committee on debt management, said yesterday. “However, according to the DSI investigation, the temple’s network received Bt1.45 billion.”
He visited DSI headquarters yesterday to seek evidence about seven other cheques that Supachai allegedly gave to Dhammakaya Temple and its network.
“We will look into the details so we can call on the temple to return the rest of the money,” Prakit said.
He said the multibillion-baht embezzlement had made it impossible for cooperative members to withdraw money from their accounts for more than three years. The cooperative, which has undergone financial rehabilitation, aims to return at least 3.76 per cent of the money owed to its members and creditors on June 30.
“We plan to pay [money] back twice a year,” Prakit said.
Earlier this month, the DSI forwarded a case against Phra Dhammachayo to public prosecutors, accusing him of money laundering and receiving ill-gotten gains. Four other alleged accomplices were also named in the case, including Supachai.
Phra Dhammachayo has not responded to DSI summons, claiming he is too ill. His legal team has also maintained that he did not know that donations he received from Supachai had been embezzled.
A DSI-led operation to search the temple and arrest the abbot last week was thwarted by thousands of followers.
Deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul yesterday met with DSI chief Pol Colonel Paisit Woungmuang to discuss further plans to make arrests.
A team from the Anti-Money Laundering Office also met with the DSI to consider taking civil action against the temple and the abbot.
Meanwhile, Total Access Communication Public Company Limited (DTAC) chief executive officer Lars Norling sought to repair any harm to the company caused by founder and chairman Boonchai Bencharongkul’s recent speech in favour of Phra Dhammachayo after some DTAC customers slammed Boonchai’s statements on social media.
Norling said Boonchai is not involved in day-to-day operations and insisted that the company is not affiliated with any political or religious groups.