Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried a woman who allegedly rented 42 cars from 16 people in the capital and absconded after re-renting some vehicles out to other people or pawning them in other provinces.
Judge Seng Leang identified the accused as Kheam Rotha, 35, a land broker living at a rental house in Por Senchey district’s Chom Chao I commune.
Judge Leang said that Ms Rotha was charged with fraud with aggravating circumstance and faces up to five years in jail if convicted.
He said that between 2016 and last year, the accused rented a total of 42 cars from 16 different owners, paying them between $500 and $1,000 per month.
“But after getting the cars, she re-rented some of them out for between $600 and $1,500 per month,” he said. “She pawned the other cars at garages in Phnom Penh and other provinces.”
Judge Leang said that in 2016 and 2017 Ms Rotha kept paying the car rentals regularly and noted that in May last year she stopped making payments to the owners.
He said some owners tried to contact her but could not because she had fled to Kandal province.
Judge Leang said the owners lodged complaints with the municipal military police who started looking for the accused and the cars.
He said that on May 14, Ms Rotha was arrested by military police in Kandal province and after her arrest, police recovered 34 cars from garages in Phnom Penh and Kandal province.
Judge Leang added that eight other cars are still missing.
Kong Sophea, 45, a land broker living in Meanchey district, testified yesterday that on February 22, 2018, he hired out a Lexus and a Highlander to Ms Rotha.
Mr Sophea said that Ms Rotha paid him $800 per month for the car and $600 per month for the SUV.
“But after she paid me for three months, she stopped paying,” he told the court. “On May 1 last year I called her to demand my vehicles back but she told me that they had been stolen.”
Mr Sophea said that the next day he tried to call Ms Rotha again but could not reach her.
He added that on May 4 he filed a complaint with the municipal military police.
Mr Sophea is demanding $30,000 in damages and compensation from Ms Rotha because his two vehicles are among those that are still missing.
During yesterday’s trial, Ms Rotha admitted committing the offence and promised to compensate all 16 car owners.
“I re-rented out some of cars to other people to make money,” she told court. “But they cheated me and pawned the vehicles at garages and fled.”
“I did not have any intention to cheat the car owners and I would like to ask the court to release me from prison so that I will be able to earn money to repay the victims,” she added.
A verdict is due January 29.