Follower of late abbot ’embezzled over 80 million baht’

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Follower of late abbot ’embezzled over 80 million baht’

Final sum expected to be higher as police expand probe after main suspect arrested

Somdet Phra Wannarat died of gallbladder cancer on March 15.

The Wat Bowonniwet Vihara board has reported discovering embezzlement by a close acquaintance of the temple’s former abbot, Venerable Somdet Phra Wannarat, who died last month.

After the revered monk’s death, the temple’s governing body asked the Royal Thai Police to launch a secret investigation, according to Thai media on Saturday.

A joint unit of investigators from the Crime Suppression Division and other officials reviewed the finances of Somdet Phra Wannarat. The team uncovered evidence of embezzlement linked to funds for the renovation of Wat Bowonniwet Vihara and its annex temples, tracing the information to a close devotee of the late abbot.

The arrest of the author, whose name has not been disclosed, took place between 23 and 25 March.

According to initial estimates, some 80 million baht was embezzled. Other legal proceedings have begun.

Police believe the final sum will exceed current estimates and are expanding their investigation to find other suspects.

Somdet Phra Wannarat died on March 15 at the age of 85, after battling gallbladder cancer.

Wat Bowonniwet Vihara is a first-class royal temple in the Phra Nakhon district of Bangkok. (Photo: Wisit Thamngern)

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