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Senior investigator transferred over Facebook claims in temple-fraud case

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Monday transferred “senior professional level investigator” Pisitchai Sawangwattanakorn of the DSI Bureau of Taxation Crime to an inactive post pending a probe for allegedly publishing inappropriate information about the ongoing temple fund embezzlement cases on his personal Facebook page.


Pisitchai’s transfer to the DSI Head Office of Special Case Experts took effect immediately.

At issue are two Facebook posts from June 8 about upcoming legal actions against abbots at several Bangkok temples reportedly in connection to the fourth-round probe into temple embezzlement of funds.

But the Royal Thai Police’s Counter-Corruption Division (CCD) chief Pol Maj-General Kamol Rienracha on June 10 insisted his investigators did not yet have final information from the fourth round of the investigation. He had no idea where Pisitchai got the information that he published, said Kamol.

A police source said that Pisitchai was summoned by police on June 10 to provide information about his claims but was not charged with any offence, although police reported his behaviour to the DSI.

In its statement to the media on Monday, DS said its Bureau of Taxation Crime had been assigned to invite officials from the National Buddhism Office (NBO) and the CCD to provide information for its consideration. Then the Bureau would weigh the launching of disciplinary actions or alternatively criminal code charges against Pisitchai and report back to the DSI chief as soon as possible.

In a related development, the Nakhon Phanom Provincial Court has issued an arrest warrants for five suspects – two Thais and three Laotian nationals – for allegedly aiding Phra Phrommedhi, former assistant abbot of Samphanthawongsaram Temple, as he fled across the border from Nakhon Phanom into Laos and then flew to Germany, a police source said.

Information on the five wanted persons has been added to computer records by the Thai Immigration Police Bureau to aid in an arrested if they return from Laos to Thailand, said the source. Wanted are Thai nationals Sasi-on Jeamwijitkul, 54, Weerawich Srisattha, 28, along with three Laotian nationals Chanthana Rattanawong, Jittima Lattamawong and Noi Lattamawong.

Phra Phrommedhi is now known by his lay name Phra Chamnong Iam-intra following a recent royal command removing his monastic rank. He is wanted by Thai police for allegedly laundering millions in embezzled state funds.

Assisting a fugitive in avoiding punishment by lodging, hiding or otherwise assisting is punishable by a maximum two-year imprisonment, a maximum fine of Bt4,000 fine, or both.

The Nation

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