Monday, December 16, 2019

No let-up in the search for Dhammachayo, says minister

Mar 17. 2017
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By THE NATION

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THE GOVERNMENT is not backing down in its efforts to arrest Phra Dhammachayo, despite its month-long failure to locate the former abbot under the sweeping powers of Article 44.

Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said yesterday the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) would continue its efforts to bring the fugitive monk to justice.

In addition, authorities plan to pursue criminal investigations against numerous suspects who are allegedly connected with various wrongdoings concerning Dhammakaya Temple and its supporters.

Inquiries into money laundering, possession of ill-gotten assets, embezzlement and other criminal activities are under way in connection with the bankrupt Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) scandal.

Investigators are preparing to summon Alisa Asavabhokin, the daughter of property tycoon Anant Asavabhokin, for questioning in connection with her ownership of a large plot of land where a major building is situated in the Dhammakaya Temple compound.

According to the land title deed, Alisa bought eight tracts of land with a combined area of 57 rai worth Bt298 million, from Supachai Srisupak-aksorn, the former chairman of the bankrupt KCUC, in 2013.

 The deal took place just a few days before Supachai’s assets were seized by authorities following criminal charges of money laundering and possession of ill-gotten assets.

DSI sources said Alisa would be questioned because the land was later used to construct the Boonruksa Building, which became a hospital, inside the temple compound. 

Investigators say they have also found the money trail that shows funds were diverted from the temple to Alisa to buy the land on behalf of the embattled temple.

Nicknamed Taeng, Alisa is the middle child of Anant, the major shareholder of Land and House and Home Pro whose combined assets total Bt97 billion. Her father has long been a key supporter of the Dhammakaya Temple. 

Alisa, who got a masters degree in linguistics from New York University, said in an earlier interview that she chose not to enter the family’s property development business.

After working for a few years at Assumption University and the International Labour Organisation’s office, she turned to do what she enjoys most: the spa and yoga businesses under the Lullaby brand.

Last year, Alisa also came under the media spotlight when her name appeared in the so-called Panama Papers as director and shareholder of Lullaby Holdings Ltd, an offshore account set up in the British Virgin Islands, along with another offshore holding firm controlled by another of Anant’s children.

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