Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday began the trial of a man who allegedly cheated a Japanese businessmen out of nearly $4 million over the purchase of cars between December 2017 and February last year.
Presiding Judge Koy Sao yesterday identified the accused as Hang Sophea, 31, the president of Cambodia Drivers Development Association.
He said Mr Sophea was charged with fraud with aggravating circumstances by an organised criminal enterprise. If convicted, he faces up to five years in jail.
He identified the plaintiff as Yamaguchi Masayuki, 48, the president of Media Financial Japan PLC.
Judge Sao noted Mr Sophea was arrested on May 20 by the Interior Ministry’s penal police.
He said that between December 29, 2017 and February 28, 2018, Mr Sophea bought 120 cars worth a total of $3.2 million from Mr Yamaguchi’s company under an instalment scheme.
Judge Sao said that the accused then resold the vehicles to association members also through a monthly instalment scheme.
He noted that before selling the vehicles, Mr Yamaguchi installed GSP systems in them.
Judge Sao said that in the beginning Mr Sophea had regularly paid the monthly instalments and interests on the car loans to Mr Yamaguchi’s company.
“However , after six months he stopped paying up,” he said. “He removed the GPS from the cars, sold 43 of them to another man and pawned the rest to garages in Phnom Penh and other provinces.”
Judge Sao added that in September last year Mr Yamaguchi filed a lawsuit against the accused at the municipal court.
During yesterday’s hearing, Mr Sophea acknowledged buying the 120 cars from Mr Yamaguchi’s company,
He told the court that after buying them he resold the vehicles to 120 association members.
Mr Sophea said the members began paying the instalments and interest to his association early every month.
He told the court that he used the money received from the members to pay the instalments he owed to Mr Yamaguchi’s company.
Mr Sophea noted that after a few months many of the association members stopped paying up, resold or pawned their vehicles and went missing.
“I did not cheat the plaintiff or have any intention not to pay him for the cars,” he told the court. “I did not have money to pay the plaintiff because I was cheated by my association’s members. They resold or pawned their cars and fled.”
The trial will continue next month at a date to be fixed.