Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted and sentenced a man to six years in jail for forging public documents and cheating Prince Sisowath Pannara Sereyvuth in a land deal.
Presiding Judge Koy Sao said Em Eng, a 52-year-old land broker living in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, was charged with forging public documents and cheating $200,000 from Prince Sereyvuth following his arrest in December.
“The court has decided to convict the accused, Em Eng, and sentence him to six years in prison,” Judge Sao said. “The court has dismissed the allegation that he cheated $200,000 due to the plaintiff not providing any specific proof to show the court.”
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 Sereyvuth, a former secretary of state at the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture.
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 Palace in Daun Penh district, which the plaintiff had planned to write to Prime Minister Hun Sen for.
Instead, he was introduced to Mr Eng by his friend Ing Phalla, a property businessman, who recommended that he hired Mr Eng.
The accused, who had disguised himself as an advisor to Mr Hun Sen and his Cabinet ministers, asked for $200,000 as a fee to obtain the approval and signature of the Prime Minister for the land, which the plaintiff claimed to have paid for on December 27, 2017.
However, 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 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.”
The plaintiff then 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, and led to Mr Eng’s arrest on the next day.
During his trial last month, Mr Eng denied the allegations but 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 in front of me and his personal advisor Seng Teang after taking photos with a group of workers in December last year.”
Mr Eng had asked the judges’ council to summon Mr Seng Teang as a witness to testify in court, a request which was denied.
Mr Eng added he received only $85,000 from the plaintiff, noting that the money was used to pay the plaintiff’s land taxes and other documents.
Muong Sokun, Mr Eng’s defense lawyer, yesterday said that the judgement for his client was unjust because he did not forge the signature of Mr Hun Sen or the letters as accused by the court.
“I think the judgement was unjust and that his sentence was excessive because he did not do what he had been accused of,” Mr Sokun said. “I will consult with my client to pave the way to appeal the judgement to the Appeal Court.”