A multimillionaire jet-setting Thai monk has fled the country with millions of dollars, leaving the nation in Thailand in sock and awe. Shock, because holy people aren’t supposed to be building empires and impregnating 13 year old girls. Awe, because he’s been getting away with the shenanigans for so long, he seems to be the perfect criminal.
The wild life of senior monk Wirapol Sukphol (formerly known as monk Luang Pu Nen Kham) began to unravel when a YouTube video, showing the monk on a private jet with designer luggage, went viral.
The details become more staggering every day. They’re all allegations so far, but include dozens of bank accounts, with millions of dollars, that have now been cleaned out by the monk, thanks to advanced warnings by Thai Department of Special Investigations (DSI) and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo). Wirapol has reportedly absconded with the money to California, where he’s said to be living in high style. He’s also reported to have travelled constantly on private jet aircraft, owns dozens of luxury autos, and fathered a child whose mother was 13 years old.
How did the monk amass this kind of capital? Reportedly by being a master scam artist. One such scheme involved convincing parishioners to donate sold gold to cover a jade Buddha image housed at the monk’s Khantitham monastery in Si Saket province, which turned out, in fact, to be tinted concrete. More than 8 tons of gold were donated, right into the monk’s hands.
This week, the Thai Criminal Court decided to prosecute Wirapol under the Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act, charging him with defrauding the public to gain donations. He’s also being charged with sexually assaulting a minor and separating her from her guardians. The Bangkok Post has also reported that he’s being investigated as the man driving a Volvo that killed a man in a hit-and-run incident three years ago. To try him, the Thais will need the cooperation of U.S. authorities, as he will have to be extradited.
Overall, we here at WoWasis see the uncovering of this scam as a good thing. Monks are revered in Thailand, but not all of them live righteous lives. They have a law unto themselves, allowing them to lie, cheat, and steal, and there’s nothing victims can do about it. Despite their vows, monks, as it turns out, can be much like the rest of us, human beings with very human vices (just ask the victims of Catholic priest abuses). It is hoped that the wild case of the defrocked monk will cause Thai authorities to become a little more suspicious when claims are brought against religious figures, and be a cautionary tale to Thai citizens who, while trying to gain merit by helping temples and monasteries, now have to ask themselves how their donations are being used, and by whom.