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Date: 1/15/99

Publication: The Nation

Section: Headlines

Dhammakaya faces extensive tax probe

THE provincial revenue office of Pathum Thani has launched a tax probe against Wat Dhammakaya and the Dhammakaya Foundation to determine whether they have evaded taxes and will expand the investigation into companies awarded major projects by the temple.

Pathum Thani revenue chief Chao Krikamol has sent officials to take photographs of completed buildings and those under construction in the temple compound to be used in the investigation, one of them said.

''The revenue office will trace back companies contracted for the construction to find out whether they have paid taxes fully as legally required,'' he said.

The investigation was launched after media examination of official trade registration documents showed that several companies were registered under the names of business people who had identical family names with Dhammakaya abbot Luang Phor Dhammachayo and his assistants. Some of the companies have been involved in real estate businesses.

The same revenue official said Wat Dhammakaya has submitted a list of companies it had contracted for the construction work to the provincial revenue office and the list from the Dhammakaya Foundation is expected by next week.

He said the office will contact the companies on the lists and ask to inspect their tax records regarding construction work in the temple compound.

In a related development, a law specialist at the Forestry Industry Organisation yesterday said he has filed a suit against the agency after it cut his salary by 20 per cent for three months after he refused to attend a seminar at Wat Dhammakaya.

Suparat Singthong said he named the FIO and its top executives in the suit filed with the Central Labour Court on Aug 28 last year as having infringed on his constitutional rights by forcing him to accept the temple's teachings by attending the seminar.

He said the FIO ignored his written explanation for refusing to attend the seminar on Dec 15 to 19, 1997, and cut his salary by 20 per cent for three months as a penalty.

The first court hearing for the case is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Nation

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