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Shenzhen monk sues businessman over unpaid loan

THE former abbot of Hongfa Temple sued a businessman who borrowed and failed to return 1.2 million yuan (US$176,471).

The case has aroused public suspicion as to how a monk had saved so much money, South Metropolis Daily reported today.

Hongfa Temple is the largest and most modern Buddhist temple in Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province.

The 102-year-old monk Benhuan, who is also the director of the Shenzhen Buddhist Association, lent the money to a businessman surnamed Xiao in 2000. The current abbot Yinshun told the newspaper that Buddhist followers had donated the money.

The case is in the trial of second instance in Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court and no verdict has been reached. Guangzhou Tianhe District People's Court asked Xiao to return 1.2 million yuan to Benhuan in the first trial, the report said.

Benhuan's attorney showed the intermediate court three IOUs that add up to 1.2 million yuan. However, Xiao insisted he was forced to sign the IOUs. Xiao admitted he had borrowed 400,000 yuan from Benhuan, but had used his three apartments as security.

After the case went public, Shenzhen residents questioned where the money came from and why Benhuan had so much money to lend in his own name, the report said. The defendant asked Benhuan to make his financial status public and reveal the sources of his assets.

According to monks at Hongfa Temple, Benhuan lent money to Xiao after a fire at his factory. The money was lent to Xiao out of charity.

Yinshun said the lawsuit was filed to save Xiao from greed, according to the report.

Temple monks told the newspaper that Benhuan is frugal and spent all the money he collected on construction of the temple.

According to the Guangdong Buddhist Association, Buddhist followers will donate money either to the temple or directly to monks.


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