Thai Monk Scandal in Bangkok: Corruption in the Temple

Buddhist monks pray during alms offering ceremony at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok on Makha Bucha Day

A Buddhist temple in Thailand, near Bangkok, is found at the center of a corruption scandal.

The case sparked angry cries for the authorities to regulate religious institutions in Thailand.

In the recent years, Thai monks have had one scandal after another, from corruption to drinking, buying prostitutes, taking drugs and gambling.

The Scandal: $20 Million USD, 684 Million Bah

The Dhammakaya temple is one of the richest in Thailand, and recently received a large, $20 million USD donation from the previous chairman for Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative. He was recently accused of embezzling money, which he had then donated. Though the temple denies knowledge of criminal activity, they have since agreed to pay back the donation over the course of 6 months.

“We have agreed to return 684 million bah to be paid in 6 installments between March and August,” the temple’s lawyer, Sermcheep Samphan, told AFP. In return, the Cooperative agreed to refrain from pressing charges against them. He added that the funds to repay would come from “donations from people who have faith in Dhammakaya.” Many began to wonder how they would raise $20 million USD in just half a year, sparking a further investigation into the situation.

The scandal has brought many things to light, and raised outrage through the nation. People grew concerned about the methods temples use to raise donations, along with the level of commercialization in Buddhism these days. In 2013, the authorities seized $800,000 worth of possessions from a monk who had stripped to the nude in a private jet. However, this case has exposed the Dhammakaya temple’s, and other temple’s, practices to acquire better donations. They encourage their congregation to make donations that match the amount of good fortune they want in their next life.


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