Thai temple to explain donations from embezzlement-hit cooperative

Thai temple to explain donations from embezzlement-hit cooperative

The Dhammakaya Temple's finance team will speak to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) about how the temple and its abbot, Phra Dhammachayo, received huge donations from an embezzlement-hit cooperative.

Lawyer Samphan Sermcheep, who represents the abbot, said yesterday that he had asked the DSI to schedule a meeting with the finance team before March 26, when Phra Dhammachayo is scheduled to be questioned by the DSI.

According to the lawyer, the abbot has never seen any cheques handed in by Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, now a former president of the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative, because donations are usually handled by the temple's finance team.

Supachai is facing charges related to allegations that he and some accomplices had illegally funnelled more than Bt10 billion (S$421 million) from the cooperative's bank accounts, of which at least Bt684 million is believed to have gone to Dhammakaya Temple and its abbot.

Samphan said a mediation session between the temple and the cooperative's representatives would be held next Monday. The cooperative is trying to pressure the temple into returning the money it received.

The authorities are now looking into the embezzlement at the cooperative in a bid to nail down the culprits.

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