94y jail term for ex-Buddhism office chief
The jail term for ex-Buddhist office chief Phanom Sornsilp rose to 94 years when a court sentenced him for repeated embezzlement of temple funds.
The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Tuesday considered the sixth and seventh temple fund embezzlement cases against Phanom, 64, concerning the allocation of Buddhism promotion funds by his National Office of Buddhism to temples in Nonthaburi province in 2013 and 2014.
The court of first instance found him and accomplices at the same office guilty of embezzling about 50 million baht, the bulk of the funds the Buddhism office allocated to Wat Bang Oi Chang, Wat Sri Ruang Boon and Wat Mai Phadung Khet temples. The office allocated a total of 80 million baht to the temples during the period.
The court found that the National Office of Buddhism had allocated the money on several occasions to the three temples, which were not even eligible for some of the funds.
A subordinate of Phanom managed to negotiate with the management of the temples for the kickbacks.
Phanom’s latest jail term was 52 years and eight months, raising his total sentence to 94 years. He and other defendants were also ordered to return the embezzled money to the Buddhism office.
Other defendants were the kickback negotiator Boonlert Sopha, 57, former Buddhism study director in Lampang province Narongdet Chainet, former Buddhism promotion director Patana Su-ammatmontri, 53, former Buddhism promotion specialist Kaeo Chittakob, 54 and former Buddhism study specialist Pornpen Kittitarangkun, 51.
Their jail terms ranged from about six years to 56 years.
All the defendants denied all charges. They had been denied bail since their arrest in 2018.