The Jet-Setting Monk from the Tiger Kingdom

The propensity and affinity for some people to gauge an opportunity to misappropriate, embezzle or divert funds to increase one’s wealth is too great and irresistible. While they may consider themselves “under the radar,” the example below demonstrate that in the end crime doesn’t pay.

The Perpetrator is Wirapol Sokphol a.k.a “The Jet-Setting Monk from Thailand (Tiger Kingdom). Wirapol Sokphol came to international attention in 2013 when a video was released of him dressed in monk’s robes, traveling board a private plane, counting colossal stacks of the US dollars and wearing designer accessories.

He amassed an estimated fortune of THB1 billion (USD32million) through a variety of illegal means including the embezzlement of funds donated to him for religious purposes by his followers. The charges against him include statutory rape, money laundering, embezzlement, and online fraud.

In order to avoid prosecution, the Jet-Setting Monk fled Thailand fled to the United States of America where he owns a Buddhist retreat near Los Angeles. USD10m disappeared from his bank accounts since he vanished. However, in September 2013, Thailand’s Department of Special investigations discovered hidden assets worth tens of millions belonging to the Jet-Setting Monk himself.

“Over the years there have been several cases of men who abused the robe, but never has a monk been implicated in so many crimes,…We have never seen a case this widespread, where a monk has caused so much damage to so many people and Thai Society.” said the Chief Investigator.

“I always wondered what kind of monk has this much money,” said one of his regular pilots, Piya Tregalnon. “The most bizarre thing is what was in his bag… it was filled with stacks of 100 dollar bills”. Wirapol Sukphol, returned to Thailand in July 2017 after being extradited from the United States where he had fled.

A criminal court in Bangkok sentenced Wirapol to 114 years in prison though he will only serve 20 years because Thai law stipulates that is the maximum for someone found guilty of multiple counts of the same offense. He was given another 16 years behind bars for taking a 14-year-old girl away from her parents and allegedly raping her for nearly two years (2000 to 2001) which led to the girl getting pregnant.

The Ratchadapisek Criminal Court judge said this 16-year sentence would be added to the 20-year prison term he was given in August over charges of public fraud, money laundering and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. The court also accused the former monk of abusing his status to take advantage of a young girl and tarnishing the religion. 

Published by Kemman

Regulatory and Independent Consulting Professional with expertise in Financial Crime Risk Compliance encompassing Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Countering Terrorism Financing (CTF), Anti-Bribery & Corruption (ABC – FCPA & UKAB), Global Trade & Sanctions, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Know Your Customer (KYC) and Customer Due Diligence (CDD), Internal Audit Testing, Reviews, Validation, Risk Assessment. Worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America (USA). Banking & FinTech, Anti-Sex & Human Trafficking Advocate, FOREX & Cryptocurrency trading, Travel & Tours, Telecommunications & Energy.

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