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French businessmen guilty

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
One of the Frenchmen. Fresh News

Two French businessmen were convicted in absentia by the municipal court yesterday and were sentenced to one year in prison each for their involvement in breaching the trademark of a Cambodian company between 2012 and 2015.

Judge Pich Vicheathor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court identified the men as Bruno Rene Marie Dubigean, an investor and former chairman of Smile Retail Group LTD, and Thomas Herbout, an investor and Mr Dubigeon’s business partner.

Judge Vicheathor convicted the Frenchmen of “breach of trademark” under article 65, a law regulating business competition in Cambodia. However, the two men remain at large.

“The court orders the police to arrest the accused and bring them here to be prosecuted,” the judge said. “The accused must be detained in accordance with the law.”

According to court documents, Mr Dubigeon and Mr Herbaut were shareholders of Smile Dragon Asia Limited, a company they formed with other stakeholders in 2011 to operate mini marts in Phnom Penh.

The court said Mr Dubigeon was the chairman and co-owner of an existing company called Smile Retail Group LTD, which also operates mini marts.

Mr Dubigeon secretly formed Smile Dragon Asia Limited with Mr Herbaut in order to compete with Smile Retail Group.

The two formed the Smile Dragon Asia’s structure similarly as Smile Retail Group’s, attempting to cover up conflict of interest.

In May 2012, the men opened a chain of mini mart stores using the colours, uniforms, signage and logo similar to that owned by Smile Retail Group.

Major Seng Sokha, deputy chief of the investigations department with municipal immigration police, said that the two Frenchmen have fled the country.

“They are no longer in Cambodia,” he said.

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