Monk 'spent B95m on Mercedes'

The embattled jet-setting monk, widely known as Luang Pu Nen Kham, bought 22 Mercedes-Benz cars between 2009 and 2011, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tarit Pengdith said on Wednesday.

The DSI chief said Pol Lt Col Korrawat Panprapakorn, director of the Bureau of Regional Operations Centre, travelled to Ubon Ratchathani, the home province of Luang Pu Nen Kham, and found out that the controversial monk spent 95 million baht on the purchase of 22 luxury cars from the provincial Mercedes-Benz service centre.

Mr Tarit said Luang Pu Nen Kham, whose official name is Phra Wirapol Sukphol, owned 21 of those Mercedes. The other car, an S300 model valued at 7.59 million baht, was given to Pansang Chumang, a pupil of Phra Wirapol.

Luang Pu Nen Kham gives a peace sign at as supermarket. (Photo taken from Facebook.com)

He said his department will check whether the senior monk was laundering money and used friends or acquaintances in the effort, he said.

The DSI chief said the Central Institute of Forensic Science had affirmed that the photograph of a man who looks suspiciously like Phra Wirapol sleeping with another person - possibly a female - was not edited or manipulated. But officials cannot yet tell the gender of the person who slept with the monk.

Luang Pu Buddha Issara, the abbot of Or Noi temple in Si Sa Ket, will bring more evidence in connection with Phra Wirapol to the DSI on Thursday, Mr Tarit said.

"We've found out that some of Luang Pu Nen Kham's pupils are trying to tamper with witnesses, and the DSI will prevent them from affecting the case," Mr Tarit said.

He said officials from the DSI and the Central Institute of Forensic Science had been sent to Ubon Ratchathani on Wednesday to collect DNA samples from an 11-year-old boy whose mother claimed that he was Phra Wirapol's son.

The testing was 99.9999% accurate and the result should be known within 24 hours, he added.

"The DSI would like Luang Pu Nen Kham's parents to cooperate with authorities to ensure clarity," Mr Tarit said.

Meanwhile, a Naew Na report said on Wednesday that Phra Wirapol, who has been abroad following reports of his luxurious lifestyle and irregular, is now in the United States together with three of his pupils.

The website alittlebuddha.com reported the monk and three companions left Paris for the US on Tuesday.

According to the website, run by people in the Thai Sangha Society, Phra Pankhao Yantharo, the abbot of Pothiyanaram temple in France where Phra Wirapol was staying, had asked the disgraced monk to leave and go to his house in California.

The website showed a copy of a document which it said was a title deed to a one-storey house owned by Phra Wirapol at 32140 Ortega Highway, Lake Elsinore, California.

This photo has not been manipulated or photoshopped, authorities, say. It shows a person resembling Luang Pu Nen Kham sleeping with another person, so far unidentified.

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