Millionaire Monk Accused of Money Laundering
July 11, 2013 Taxation in Thailand
BANGKOK – A monk is under investigation by Thai authorities, following allegations that he was involved in an extensive money laundering operation.
The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) of Thailand has frozen 10 bank accounts belonging to Luang Pu Nenkham, the abbot of the Khantitham monastery, after suspicions arose that his accounts were being used to launder vast amounts of money.
According to the AMLO, the bank accounts had an average daily turnover of up to THB 200 million (approx. USD 6.5 million).
The monk claimed that the money coming into the accounts originated from donations made by the public, and the transactions out of the account consisted of charitable donations and expenditures on various religious projects.
Commenting on the results of the current investigations , the deputy chief of AMLO Suwanee Sawaengphol said that even if the money is actually raised through voluntary donations, under Thai law the situation may still be regarded as money laundering, if it involved any fraud, scams, or exploitation of peoples’ faith.
Suwanee Sawaengphol also said that the AMLO will now try to determine whether any of the funds passing through the bank accounts has been used to purchase items for personal use by Luang Pu Nenkham .
While explaining the actions which will be taken by the AMLO in regards to the accounts, Suwanee Sawaengphol stated that it is still too early to say whether any of the funds will be confiscated, but added that so far there has been very clear indication that the bank accounts were used in an attempt to bypass Thai money laundering laws.
Photo by Richard Cawood