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Date: 1/8/99

Publication: The Nation

Section: Headlines

Dhammakaya abbot gains a US green card

CRIME Suppression police will today appoint a team to investigate allegations of fraud by the Dhammakaya temple after a group of people filed a complaint yesterday.

Meanwhile the Education Ministry will also launch a probe today into the controversies surrounding the temple.

The moves came after the latest disclosure about the temple's link to 100 companies in the United States and the fact that the embattled abbot Luang Phor Dhammachayo has already been granted US citizenship after having invested a lot of money.

The information came from the Land Department, the Department of Commercial Registration and academics from the Religious Department.

Waranchai Chokchana who led the team to file the complaints said he wanted the police to probe the temple's and the abbot's financial statuses.

''We want to know if the abbot committed unlawful acts like having duped the public,'' he said.

Waranchai cited Criminal Law Article 341 which stipulates that anyone who intends to dupe others through false statements or concealing the truth in order to gain their money will be punished with a three-year jail sentence or a Bt6,000 fine.

Deputy Commander Wichien Samanpong said some complaints filed by the group were beyond the authority of the police, but they would investigate what they were empowered to do so.

As allegations against Dhammakaya Temple and its abbot continue unabated, the Education Ministry yesterday appointed a team to investigate the controversies.

Deputy Education Minister Arkom Engchuan said the panel, led by deputy permanent secretary Suwat Ngerncham, will meet to discuss Dhammakaya's fund-raising tactics and its proclaimed ''Crystal Sun'' miracles.

Arkom said the panel will also find facts about the controversies of whether the Dhammakaya Foundation manages funds donated by the public; whether the temple's land was purchased under the name of the abbot; and whether the abbot has a motive to escape the scandals by seeking a US greencard.

The deputy minister said the results will be forwarded to the Sangha Supreme Council which has also appointed a team of senior monks, led by Phra Prommoli, to investigate alleged improprieties.

The Nation

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