'High-living' nun accused of stealing from monastery

October 12, 2015 16:44
Chi Ding (inset right) is seen with a disciple at a shopping mall. Chi is being accused of stealing money from the Hong Kong Ting Wai Monastery in order to support a lavish lifestyle. Photos: Facebook, Headline Daily

A Hong Kong Buddhist monastery spent HK$242,000 (US$32,230) a year on entertainment and HK$7,000 a month on dog food, and kept the air-conditioning on in a room where its administrator kept two German shepherds.

The expenditure came in financial statements submitted to the board of directors of Hong Kong Ting Wai Monastery, Headline Daily reports.

The monastery is run by Chi Ding, a Buddhist nun who is being accused of stealing money from the nunnery in order to support a lavish lifestyle.

In a recent media interview, Chi told reporters she had the lights turned off in the main temple because the monastery was strapped for money.

The reporters later found the air-conditioning was always on in Chi's quarters where she kept the dogs.

Chi became chairman of the board in 2005 and presided over an enterprise with HK$6.74 million in assets and bank savings, according to the report.

But after three years, the assets and savings had dwindled to HK$2.2 million, despite donations of HK$2 million to HK$4 million during the period.

By 2014, the reserves had been depleted to HK$700,000.

In contrast, annual religion-related expenditure had soared to HK$2.83 million from HK$450,000 in the eight years to 2014.

The monastery spent HK$1.2 million and HK$1.43 million for maintenance in 2006 and 2009, respectively, but had fallen into disrepair in June when it called for crowdfunding.

Annual meal expenses rose to HK$260,000 from HK$60,000 in the three years to 2008 alone.

Lawyer Mary Jean Reimer quoted Chi in a taped telephone conversation on Sept. 16 telling a fellow monastery director to "leave enough funds" in her Hang Seng Bank account.

On top of the Hang Seng Bank account, Chi operates a Bank of China account with Reimer, according to a volunteer, surnamed Chan.

Chan said Chi would rush to beat him to the mail box to collect checks which she would then deposit into her Hang Seng Bank account.

Last month, Chi changed the lock on the mail box, giving herself sole access to donations sent by post, Chan said.

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