Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni (Ven. Dhammajayo) has been ordained as a Buddhist monk for over 46 years and has performed virtuous deeds throughout his life. At the age of 72, he is now in the final stage of his life and his health is failing. Currently, he is being accused of money laundering and accepting stolen property. All these accusations are baseless and demonstrate to the injustice being brought against him in several ways:
It all began when Mr. Supachai Srisupa-aksorn, former chairman of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) was suspected of laundering money from the credit union. He wrote a total of 878 cheques to various people and organizations, of which 10 were donated to the Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) had already investigated this matter with Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni and submitted their findings to the prosecutor. The prosecutor evaluated the case and opted not to press charges against Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni. Then suddenly, a new case with the exact charges was filed, with Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni being charged with money laundering and receiving stolen property as well. This was a duplication of the previous case and goes against the law that states: “One count of charge cannot be duplicated.”
Money laundering and accepting stolen property technically occurs if Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni intended to collude with Mr. Supachai Srisupa-aksorn to illegally extract money from KCUC for his own benefit. However, what actually transpired does not support the premise underlying these assumptions: Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni received the donations openly before a crowd of tens of thousands of people. He never saw the cheques. The temple’s financial department staff collected the donated cash and cheques, and deposited them into the bank, subsequently allocating them toward construction costs of religious facilities and various temple expenses as the donors had intended. This information had been previously disclosed to DSI.
The assumption is that Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni colluded with Mr. Supachai to embezzle funds from the credit union. In truth, to do so, they would have had to conceal their illegal activity. Instead, the money can be clearly traced for every transaction, starting with the credit union cheques used as a form of “payment” for donations. Cheques for large sums like these would have certainly been subject to an audit, leading to significant non-liquidity within the credit union. Any person with mal intent seeking to launder money would not have used such transparent methods.
Moreover, Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni did not withdraw a single baht of cash from his bank account. The cheques donated by Mr. Supachai Srisupa-aksorn had been transferred from Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni’s account in their full amount to pay contractors for the construction of religious facilities, in accordance with Mr. Supachai’s wishes. They were never allocated for Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni’s personal benefit. The transparent money trail had been verified by the Anti-Money Laundering Office and their findings were submitted to DSI.
Questions have been raised as to why Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni and Wat Phra Dhammakaya were not suspicious of the source of Mr. Supachai’s large donations. In truth, Mr. Supachai donated to other temples, schools, universities, public charities, and government sectors; moreover, his donations were not the largest in sum, compared to donations made by others to Wat Phra Dhammakaya. Mr. Supachai revealed that the funds for his donations were derived from his successful business, so Wat Phra Dhammakaya had no reasons to be suspicious and received the donations in the same manner as any donations by others. When the lawsuit was filed, Mr. Supachai released a statement indicating that he borrowed money from the credit union to make donations to Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni, and already repaid the credit union in full.
Once the lawsuit was filed, supporters of Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni felt a decision left to the court would be exhaustive and credit union members would be in dire straits. They also felt that Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni’s reputation would also be impacted. As a result, they raised a sum of 684.78 million baht and returned it to the credit union. This was an identical amount initially donated by Mr. Supachai to Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni; both parties acknowledged this transaction in court.
Afterwards, the credit union withdrew its lawsuit against Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni and Wat Phra Dhammakaya and released a statement indicating their intention not to move forward with both the civil case and the criminal case against Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni and Wat Phra Dhammakaya. They also issued a letter of appreciation to the supporters of Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni who generously raised the full amount of funds to aid the credit union.
Therefore, Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative didn’t suffer any hardships from Mr. Supachai Srisupa-aksorn’s monetary donations to Wat Phra Dhammakaya and Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni. The President and Vice President of the Credit Union elected not to proceed with the lawsuit and even issued a letter of appreciation to the temple supporters. However, DSI continues to trump up charges and accusations against Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni. What is the motive behind this?
DSI issued a summons for Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni to appear before investigators at its headquarters on 25th April 2016. At 11.00 hrs. that day, Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni’s attorney submitted a request for postponement due to the ailments he presented, accompanied by a medical certificate. After the investigators reviewed the request, they informed the attorney at 11.30 hrs. that the postponement was approved. The appearance would be postponed for 10th May 2016. The attorney then departed the DSI HQ. However, at 13.30 hrs, investigators phoned the attorney to inform him that they rescinded the postponement and would seek an arrest warrant, on the grounds that Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni was well enough to make the trip to DSI HQ.
However, DSI did not appoint a physician from the police hospital or any other department to determine whether Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni was truly ill or not. This begs the question: How did DSI know whether or not Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni is ailing? DSI claims that Ven. Phratheypyanmahamuni was fully able to join the ceremony on 22nd April 2016. However, the medical certificate clearly indicates that he was suffering acutely. DSI’s claim is unsupported.
This past year, Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni has been ailing and has not stepped foot outside the temple. He has been suffering from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his left leg, which has swelled to twice the size of the right leg; chronic ulcers on the left leg from diabetes; and severe allergies. DSI examined his medical conditions when they met him at the temple last year in 2015, but have yet to make the visit with a physician this year.
Ultimately, the courts made the decision to refuse to issue an arrest warrant on the basis that Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni was not a flight risk.
The following questions remain unanswered:
For what reason weren’t they able to meet him at the temple this time?
Why did DSI alter their words? First, they allowed for a postponement, then rescinded, and then sought an arrest warrant. Why did they go back on their words?
Was an arrest warrant necessary?
Why such aggressiveness with a senior monk who has only done wholesome deeds throughout his life?
Millions of Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni’s supporters are utterly perplexed.