A Buddhist monk, who caused controversy after he was filmed travelling on board a private jet, has had his assets frozen and is at the centre of a sex scandal.
Luang Pu Nenkham Chattigo, who is the abbot of Thailand’s Khantitham Forest Monastery, received the ban from the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), amid suspicions of money laundering and fraud.
Chattigo and his associates reportedly have 16 bank accounts, of which around ten are involved in daily transactions of up to 200 millon Baht (£4m), the Bangkok Post reports.
Footage of Luang Pu Nenkham Chattigo aboard a private jet emerged in June
AMLO deputy secretary-general Suwanee Sawaengpol told the newspaper all monetary transfers are currently prohibited, “Otherwise the monk or those in his network will immediately be guilty of violating the money laundering law.”
Money laundering is a criminal act carrying jail sentences from two to ten years in Thailand.
AMLO reportedly launched an investigation after receiving a petition from a Facebook group describing itself as the “network against acts that destroy the nation, religion and the royal institution.”
The group, chaired by Songkran Atchariyasap, alleges Chattigo may have misused temple donations and called for a probe into his assets, including cash, gold, ornaments and land.
The scandal-hit abbot, who is meant to be celibate, is also suspected of having had sexual relationships with eight women and fathered two children.
A photograph of the 34-year-old lying next to an apparently naked woman is also circulating, The Telegraph reports.
Chattigo first landed in hot water when footage of him on board the jet emerged.
Spokesman Nopparat Benjawatananun said the footage was being examined to see if the monks had violated any Buddhist teachings.
"If the answer is yes, we will ask the local monastic chief to punish those involved," he said.
He added the monks were acting "inappropriately, not composed and not adhering to Buddha's teachings of simplicity and self-restraint."
Benjawatananun said he had been made aware of the video earlier this year and that the monks had been warned not to repeat the lavish behaviour, the Associated Press, reports.
According to one of the monks, the jet was chartered by a devotee to fly them home to northeast Si Sa Ket from Bangkok after performing duties in November, the Bangkok Post reported.
"To be in the monkhood one should be isolated and content with what one has," Pra Khru Vinaithorn Teerawit, of the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand, told the newspaper.
He added: "If monks chose to travel by jet then it's not suitable."