An astonishing discovery of cash donations totaling 51 million baht has emerged in the case involving a former monk, Phra Ajarn Khom Abhivaro, and two others accused of embezzling 180 million baht from Wat Pha Dhammakiri temple in Nakhon Ratchasima. The 39-year-old former monk, who gained widespread recognition for his meditation expertise and attracted numerous high-profile followers, was arrested along with accomplices Wutthima, 38, and Juthathip, 35, based on a warrant issued by the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.
Authorities apprehended the suspects last week, with further revelations suggesting that the former monk also engaged in sexual activities, prompting him to voluntarily leave the monkhood on May 1. The investigation began following accusations from the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) that Khom Abhivaro had misused temple donations for his personal gain.
Reports indicate that one such donation was facilitated through Wutthima, a former abbot who transferred the money to Juthathip, the former monk’s sister. Juthathip then deposited the sum into her brother’s bank account, while an additional 51 million baht in cash donations were found concealed in foam boxes and suitcases at her residence. Police have since seized the funds.
Investigators also uncovered another transaction of 130 million baht that the former monk had siphoned off from a temple donation, bringing the total embezzled amount to at least 180 million baht. Charges of embezzlement and abuse of office have been filed against the suspects, with an additional charge of receiving stolen goods for Juthathip.
Khom Abhivaro graduated from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Ayutthaya before relocating to Nakhon Ratchasima and founding the Dhammakiri monastic residence, which was later upgraded to a temple. His meditation expertise earned him a reputation, and many well-known individuals sought to become his followers and disciples.