BANGKOK – Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will investigate the case of embattled Buddhist monk Phra Wirapol Sukphol, better known as Luang Pu Nenkham Chattigo, involving several acts deemed in violation of criminal law including allegedly having sex with an underage girl.
The DSI decision followed the outrage expressed by the Thai public after video clips of Phra Wirapol, abbot of the Khantitham forest monastery in the northeastern province of Si SaKet, featuring his luxurious life with brand name bags and expensive gadgets on board a private jet, went viral.
Apart from his lavish lifestyle, other controversial behavior was also revealed, ranging from allegedly having sexual affairs with many young women, owning luxury cars, motorcycles, and big houses–all of which break Buddhist teachings, to his suspected involvement with illicit drugs and money laundering.
Speaking at a press briefing after chairing a special meeting with key agencies including the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said his agency will probe the monk’s alleged violations of the law, including advertising false information online, having sex with a minor, suspected tax evasion with nine super cars, using illicit drugs, using falsified education certificate, reckless driving causing another’s death, exploiting donations which could be linked to money laundering and deceiving the public.
He said the DSI found that Phra Wirapol allegedly committed the above offenses.
Mr Tharit said his agency will submit a letter to the National Office of Buddhism asking the agency to defrock the monk and revoke his passport so that Phra Wirapol will be deported to face prosecution in Thailand.
As one woman claimed that she was the monk’s wife and has one child with him, the DSI chief said the Central Institute of Forensic Sciences and the DSI will ask the monk’s parents for a DNA test with an 11-year-old boy believed to be his son. The result will be known when the tests are complete tomorrow.
Mr Tharit said that AMLO will be asked to freeze the monk’s assets.
Police earlier said they found a dozen bank accounts of Phra Wirapol with an estimated daily circulation of about 200 million baht.
National Office of Buddhism director Nopparat Benjawattananant explained that the law governing Buddhist monks authorises police investigators to defrock any monk arrested with criminal offence in absentia.
Last month the embattled monk reportedly was on a religious mission in France but his current location is now undisclosed as he has refused to return to Thailand since the news broke out.