PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Sourn Mean, a high ranking government official working in the Ministry of Environment, was charged with cheating the Khmer Angkor Agriculture Company out of $3.7 million at a hearing at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Eab Pai, Chief Executive Director of the Khmer Angkor Agriculture Company, told Judge Kau Vanny that in 2011, he came from France to visit Cambodia.
On his trip he met Mr. Mean, who said he knew how to legally get the rights to economic land concessions (ECL) in Cambodia. Mr. Pai then asked Mr. Mean to get him the rights to plant rubber trees on an ELC in Mondulkiri province.
To get the license for this project, Mr. Pai had to spend $2.6 million for Mr. Mean to handle the legal documents and pay fees to the government. Mr. Pai then received ownership of 9,160 hectares of land for his plantations in Keo Seima district and Phnom Prech district in Mondulkiri province.
But in 2013, the government took back the 9,160 hectares of ECL from Mr. Pai.
For this loss of land, Mr. Pai filed a complaint to the court to get back his $2.6 million and the $1.1 million in compensation he gave to Mr. Mean.
However defense lawyer Leng Ly Hour argued that this case was a civil case and not a criminal case. It is a dispute over a contract between his client and Mr. Pai, he said.
According the contract, his client fulfilled all the requested obligations. His client had done all of the paperwork to give Mr. Pai the rights to the 9,160 hectares in Mondulkiri province.
Mr. Ly Hour added that the reason the government took back the plots of land was because Mr. Pai tried to buy even more plots from local people living on a conservation site in 2013.
He also said Mr. Pai was not the only one who lost his land. The government took back land from 22 other companies, claiming they all took land from local people.
For these reasons, the defense lawyer asked the judge to drop the charges against his client.
Former Policeman Accused of Breach of Trust
Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided to reschedule the delivery of the verdict against Pech Hy, a former police officer accused of breach of trust.
The verdict was scheduled to be delivered on Thursday, but Judge Nou Viesna told the audience that the case was very complex and required more time to examine it and deliver the right verdict.
Mr. Hy was on trial on July 13 after being arrested in 2014. Tycoon Srey Chanthon, Chief Executive of the Seven Anji Company and the Safety Agriculture Company, filed a complaint against him to the municipal court.
According to the complaint, in 2006, Mr. Hy was an employee at Seven Anji Company. The company assigned Mr. Hy as the man in charge of buying a certain number of plots of land in Ksach Kandal district, Kandal province.
The company gave Mr. Hy full rights to handle the paperwork of transferring ownership of the land acquired to the company and to pay for land bought from local people.
To buy the plots of land, the company gave Mr. Hy $1,527,651 in installments. But Mr. Hy did not use the money to buy plots of land. Instead, he kept the money for himself.
Once he had received the money, Mr. Hy quit his job at the company and applied for a job as a police officer at the Ministry of Interior.
When the company set up a meeting to ask him to show them where the $1,527,651 went, Mr. Hy failed to attend.