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Kandal official on trial over fraud charge

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried the chief of the provincial industry and mines department in Kandal for allegedly cheating nearly $15,000 from a 58-year-old man in promise of government jobs in 2016.

Judge Ros Piseth identified the accused as Huoth Vantho, 48, from Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district.

Judge Piseth said that Mr Vantho was charged with fraud but was not detained, noting that the accused has been out on bail since December 26, 2016.

Judge Piseth added that Ros Srey, 58, from Chamkar Mon district filed a complaint against Mr Vantho on November 11, 2016 after he paid the accused $14,300 to find jobs in the government for his nephews. Mr Vantho did not come through as promised, he added.

Sam Chakriya, the plaintiff’s lawyer, told the court that in June 2016, Mr Vantho, who was a high-ranking official, told his client that he would find jobs for his unemployed nephews, who had just graduated from university, with the Ministry of Industry and Mines, saying that government jobs were well paid.

Mr Chakriya said Mr Vantho told his client that if his nephews wanted to work with the ministry, he would help them find a job if he paid $5,000 for each person, noting that the money would be used to bribe other related government officials.

Mr Chakriya said Mr Vantho promised that he would find jobs for his three nephews as officials with the Water Supply Department, Electricity Department and Industry and Mines Department in Phnom Penh within the period of two months after he received the payment.

He added that Mr Srey trusted Mr Vantho and on September 11, 2016, his client paid a total of $14,300 to the accused.

“But after Mr Vantho received the payment from my client, he did not find any job for my client as promised,” Mr Chakriya said. “Afterward, my client demanded him to return the money, which he did not do. He just promised to pay back my client but my client has not received any of the money back.”

“To find the truth and justice in this case, my client demands $14,300 in damages and demands another $5,000 in compensation. My client also asks the court to punish him in accordance with the law,” he added.

Mr Vantho did not attend the trial yesterday and could not be contacted for comment.

Peung Yok Hiep, Mr Vantho’s defence lawyer, told the court that her client is still working as the chief of the provincial industry and mines department in Kandal province, adding that he could not attend the trial because he was busy with work in the province.

“In this case, my client has acknowledged that he did receive the money from the victim,” she said. “He promised to repay the victim but he does not have the money yet.”

“To repay the victim, my client is now selling a plot of his land in Kandal province,” she added.

Ms Yok Hiep requested the judge to drop the charges against her client and said that her client will pay back the victim in August.

Khieu Phalla, court deputy prosecutor, said that although the accused has promised to pay back the victim, his charges will not be dropped.

“Based on the trial, the accused’s confession and the evidence, in the name of the court prosecutor, I decide to uphold the accused’s charge as effective,” he said. “I suggest the judge to punish him in accordance with the law.”

A verdict is due on August 9.

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