Defrocked monk wanted to buy jet

THAILAND - Thailand's most infamous monk loved the high life so much that he wanted to buy an executive private jet for his personal use.

Wirapol Sukphol, 34, who was defrocked last week, flew from his California home a few months before Thailand's great flood in 2011 to the Cessna Aircraft Company's Wichita facility in Kansas to inspect and test a CJ4, Bangkok Daily reported quoting sources.

The twin-jet private aircraft, which can seat eight passengers and has a range of 3,555km, carries a basic price tag of US$9.05 million (S$11.4 million).

The Bangkok newspaper said the former monk became obsessed with the CJ4 after he flew in the plane on chartered business trips in Thailand and to neighbouring countries.

$11,000 per trip

In the past few years, he made more than 20 trips, mostly in Thailand, on chartered business jets operated by local firms that charged him about 250,000 baht (S$11,000) a trip.

The other Cessna aircraft he considered was a cheaper version - a Grand Caravan turboprop - which can seat nine passengers and a pilot. It is mainly for short-haul flights.

The Bangkok Post quoted sources as saying that he was willing to pay for the plane in cash. But no order was made. He had settled his previous plane charter bills in cash.

Before his tour of the Cessna facility, he asked other Thai jet charter companies to look for a private jet that he could use for his sermon trips, which required him to travel regularly.

The disgraced former monk has been charged with three criminal counts - alleged rape of a minor; fraud; and false advertising on the Internet by claiming he had an audience with the deity Indra.

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