Farmer arrested over extortion

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The accused. Swift News

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged and jailed a man accused of using Prime Minister Hun Sen’s and ministers’ names to extort money from tycoons and lower-ranking government officials.

Investigating Judge Ros Piseth identified the accused as 40-year-old farmer Rem Kongnovdara, from Trapaing Sre village in Prey Veng province’s Mesang district.

Mr Kongnovdara was arrested on Thursday by Anti-Cybercrime department police at the Ministry of Interior. He was arrested following complaints lodged by government officials and tycoons to the ministry’s Anti-Cybercrime department.

Major Muth Seang, a police official working at the ministry’s Anti-Cybercrimes Department, said yesterday that police found that the accused had disguised himself using different identities, including as a government official, a personal advisor to Mr Hun Sen, and a personal assistant to different ministers.

Mr Kongnovdara telephoned to ask for money from government officials who worked at provincial or municipal department levels, as well as tycoons, Maj Seang said.

The accused asked for $3,000 to $10,000 each time using various excuses, including to pay the government, build schools, health centers, wells or roads. The payment would be in exchange for a medal or a promotion for the victims who he had called for the money.

As Mr Kongnovdara claimed to be either a personal advisor to Mr Hun Sen or a minister’s assistant, the victims would comply and transferred the money, Maj Seang said.

Maj Seang noted that the victims later grew suspicious, leading several to report it to the ministry where Mr Kongnovdara had claimed to work. In response, the ministry alerted that the accused was a fake official.

Maj Seang said the victims lodged complaints against the accused and provided his contact phone number to the Anti-Cybercrimes Department at the Ministry of Interior.

Maj Seang added the contact number offered by the victims enabled the police to identify Mr Kongnovdara and his residence in Prey Veng province, where he was arrested.

Following his arrest, Mr Kongnovdara was sent to the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh for questioning. He is currently in pre-trial detention at Prey Sar prison.

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