THAILAND— A former monk has recently been arrested by the Royal Thai police for his alleged involvement in an embezzlement case which amounted to 180 million baht (approximately 5.3 million USD) from his temple.

According to Bangkok Post, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Thailand began investigating the case after the National Office of Buddhism complained about suspected irregularities in the collection of temple donations.

The 39-year-old Khom Khongkeaw, previously known as Phra Ajarn Khom Abhivaro, was a famous meditation expert who had many high-profile followers.

He was the former abbot of Wat Pha Dhammakiri and was arrested on 6 May on a warrant issued by the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases. He faces charges of embezzlement and abuse of office.

The police also arrested another former priest, 38-year-old Wutthima, and Mr Khom’s sister, 35-year-old Juthathip.

Mr Khom was also allegedly involved in sexual activity, which resulted in his voluntary departure from the monkhood on 1 May.

A new abbot was appointed to replace Mr Khom, and a committee was established to survey the temple’s assets in the following days, according to several media outlets’ reports.

Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, CIB’s commissioner, said one donation was reportedly made through Mr Wutthima, then passed the cash on to Miss Juthathip.

Miss Juthathip allegedly deposited the money into Mr Khom’s bank account, and the police confiscated other cash donations worth 51 million baht stored in foam boxes and suitcases at her residence.

The investigation revealed that Mr Khom had embezzled at least 180 million baht from the temple, including a transaction of 130 million baht he had managed to carve out from a temple donation.

Pol Lt. Gen Jirabhop added that Miss Juthathip was charged with receiving stolen goods.

After graduating from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Wang Noi Campus, in Ayutthaya, Mr Khom moved to Nakhon Ratchasima and established the Dhammakiri monastic residence, which later became a temple.

In 2021, Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn bestowed the royal title of “Phra Wachirayan Kosal” on Mr Khom, gaining him widespread attention.


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