Supapattarapoj Nitisathorn, the lawyer, said yesterday (July 26) that the vintage car was given to the abbot, also known as Luang Phi Namfon, by Somchet Khemmathat, a follower, as an exhibit for the temple to encourage more visitors.
He was speaking at a media briefing also attended by Luang Phi Namfon.
The move followed the Department of Special Investigation’s (DSI) recent accusations of tax evasion involving the classic Panther, which thereby implicated the abbot.
According to the DSI, the frame of the vehicle was declared as a Panther and the engine as a Jaguar, but the car was actually a wholly-built unit from Panther, registered in the US.
In 2011, the abbot was invited to give moral support to a group of Thai restaurant owners, including Mr Somchet, in Los Angeles, the lawyer said.
Mr Somchet offered the frame of the vehicle, which was being displayed in front of his restaurant, to the abbot.
On Oct 9, 2011, the frame and some parts were shipped to Thailand to Charinthorn Pathakamin, the owner of a garage.
According to the lawyer, the used engine of the Jaguar and additional parts were shipped to Luang Phi Namfon in Thailand on Oct 28 the same year.
Termsak Pitithanasansombat, the abbot’s attendant, paid the excise tax for the vehicle, he added.
The Panther was first made by WaterCar at its Fountain Valley, California, factory in 2013. List prices for various models are between $100,000 and $200,000 (B3.5 to B7 million).
The firm claims the four-wheel drive vehicle is capable of speeds of 137kph on land and 72kph on the water, and describes it in its marketing kit as the ‘most fun amphibious vehicle on the planet’.
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