One of two trials against a well-known travel agency owner began yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, with the owner admitting she issued cheques to an associate knowing they would bounce, but claiming she was forced to do so by the plaintiff.
Ros Sreyrath, 36, the owner of Srey Rath International Travel in Daun Penh district, faces a charge of issuing a bad cheque in relation to a $29,000 debt to a business associate.
In a separate case that has not yet begun its trial, she is also facing “fraud” charges for cheating 92 clients out of $270,000 by issuing them fake flight tickets.
Ngor Kav, 66, the owner of the China Town Hotel, said during yesterday’s fraudulent cheque trial that Ms Sreyrath owed him the $29,000 for rental fees at his hotel and also loans to help her operate her business.
He said that in early 2017, Ms Sreyrath issued him a total of seven cheques worth $29,000 from her two foreign banks accounts in Phnom Penh.
“But when I took those seven cheques to get the money, they bounced,” he said. “When I demanded she pay me back, she kept asking for more time and still has not paid.”
Mr Kav noted that he eventually ran out of patience and filed a lawsuit against her, leading to her arrest in February.
“To find justice, I want the court to order her to pay me my money and punish her,” he added.
Mrs Sreyrath admitted that she issued the bad cheques yesterday, but claimed she only did so because Mr Kav forced her to.
“He knew the cheques were without currency, but he forced me to issue them to him,” she claimed. “I trusted him and I issued the cheques for him. But then he sued me.”
“I accept that I owe him $29,000,” she added. “I would like to ask the court to release me so that I can make money to pay him back.”
A verdict is due on August 3.
A trial date on Ms Sreyrath’s fraud charges in the separate case has not yet been set.
In that case, victims didn’t realise their flight tickets were fake until presenting them at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
When they then demanded their money back from her, she did not issue refunds.