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Police Uncover Second Temple Embezzler Who Stole US$954,000

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Police Uncover Second Temple Embezzler

Crime Suppression police have discovered another disciple of late abbot Somdej Phra Wannarat of Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara temple. This disciple is suspected of playing a hand in the embezzlement of US$954,000 of temple funds in Trat province.

Crime Suppression police have checked irregularities in the finances of Wat Rattanawararam and Wat Khiri Wihan. An aide of the late abbot, Apirat Jayankura Na Ayudhya, also embezzled funds from two of the branch temples.

The money was to be used for the construction of Wat Rattanawararam and a school at Wat Khiri Wihan.

Checking the transaction records of both temples last year, police discovered Mr. Apirat transferred US$596,000 from Wat Rattanawararam to his personal account and US$358,000 from Wat Khiri Wihan temple school fund.

Additionally, the officers discovered that some funds had been transferred to an unidentified person. It was known, however, that the suspect was close to the late abbot and one of his disciples who oversaw the financial management of both temples.

Investigators will continue to look into why the suspect withdrew the money from the account and determine if he worked in cahoots with Mr. Apirat.

As of March 23, 2011, Mr. Apirat was arrested at a condominium in Bangkok.

One of Wat Bowon Niwet’s branches, Wat Wachira Thamma Ram in Ayutthaya, initially discovered irregularities in the temple’s assets that were later linked to his activities. On March 22, a complaint was filed with the Crime Suppression police.

An investigation found that Mr. Apirat had repeatedly transferred money from Wat’s bank accounts to his own.

As a result of the investigation, a Bentley, Porsche, BMW, Volvo, Lexus, cash, multiple bank accounts, designer bags, and gold-plated amulets worth thousands of dollars were uncovered.

Of the nine luxury cars found in Mr. Apirat’s possession, only a few were registered under his name. Documents show he registered vehicles with family members and a male partner.

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