Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried a man accused of forging public documents and cheating Prince Sisowath Panara Sereyvuth out of $200,000 in a land deal.
Presiding Judge Koy Sao identified the accused as Em Eng, a 52-year-old land broker living in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district.
Judge Sao said Mr Eng was charged with forgery of public documents and the use of forged public documents, and faces five to 10 years in jail if convicted.
Judge Sao stated that Mr Eng was arrested by the Interior Ministry’s penal police department on December 3 in Chamkar Mon district following a complaint filed against him by Prince Panara Sereyvuth, a former secretary of state at the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture.
Judge Sao noted that in November 2017, the plaintiff was seeking to own a plot of state land located near the Royal University of Fine Arts and the Royal Place in Daun Penh district. The plaintiff was planning to write to Prime Minister Hun Sen for the plot of land, he added.
Judge Sao said that the plaintiff was later introduced to Mr Eng by his friend Ing Phalla, a property businessman.
Mr Phalla had also recommended the prince to do business with Mr Eng, who had disguised himself as an advisor to Mr Hun Sen and his Cabinet.
The plaintiff later hired Mr Eng, who asked for $200,000 as a fee to obtain the approval and signature of Mr Hun Sen.
Judge Sao noted that on December 27, 2017, the plaintiff paid $200,000 to Mr Eng, who claimed he had successfully obtained the Prime Minister’s approval for the land ownership.
Judge Sao added that when the plaintiff took the land documents to relevant ministries, it was revealed that the documents were forged.
“He had disguised himself as an advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen and also the advisor to the Royal Government,” Judge Sao said. “He has scanned the Prime Minister’s signature and forged his letters for the plaintiff’s land documents. He gave the forged documents to the plaintiff and received $200,000 from him.”
He added that the plaintiff filed the complaint against Mr Eng to the Interior Ministry’s penal police department on December 2 last year, which also included a claim for the money he had lost. Mr Eng was arrested on the next day.
During yesterday’s trial, Mr Eng denied the allegations. However, he confessed that he had posed as the Prime Minister’s advisor.
Mr Eng told the court that all documents were prepared by the plaintiff and Mr Phalla, which they gave to him to use as documents to obtain the approval and signature of Mr Hun Sen.
Mr Eng said that he met with Mr Hun Sen in December last year to obtain his signature, when the Prime Minister met and took pictures with garment workers at a factory in Dangkor district.
“I did not forge the signature of Prime Minister Hun Sen or the letters as accused,” Mr Eng told the court. “The signature on the letters were by the Prime Minister. He signed it front of me and his personal advisor Seng Teang after taking photos with a group of workers in December last year.”
“If the judge does not believe me, I ask the judge to please summon Mr Seng Teang as a witness to testify in court,” he added.
Mr Eng added that he has received only $85,000 from the plaintiff and that the money had gone to paying for the plaintiff’s land taxes and other documents.
The trial will continue on June 26.