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Two high-ranking officials charged over $300,000 fraud

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Meas Savoeun (L) and Chhem Peth have been summoned to court and charged with fraud. Facebook

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday charged two high-ranking government officials accused of cheating  a real estate businessman out of  $300,000 in 2016.

Deputy prosecutor Say Nora identified the two accused as Meas Savoeun, Ministry of Justice undersecretary of state and Chhem Peth, Council of Ministers undersecretary of state.

Nora said that Savoeun and Peth were charged with “fraud” under Articles 377 and 378 of the Criminal Code.

“To prevent the recurrence of a crime, the harassment of the witnesses or the victim, the reconciliation between the accused and their accomplices and to ensure the retention of the accused, the representative of the prosecutor has decided to put the two accused under the control of the court,” Nora said.

He said they were sued by Kan Rithy, a real estate businessman living in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.

A court clerk Ly Sokha said yesterday, although the accused were formerly charged, they have not yet been arrested because they are still holding high-ranking positions in the ministries.

Sokha said that after any government official is charged by the court, the investigating judge must inform the relevant ministries the accused work for and summon them to the court for questioning.

He said if the accused do not come to the court as summoned, the investigating judge will issue a warrant for their arrest.

He added that the investigating judge summoned Peth to court on January 26 and Savoeun on February 3.

The plaintiff Rithy said that in August 2016, Peth introduced him to his friend Savoeun who claimed that he owned two hectares of land in the outskirts of Russey Keo district.

He said that after meeting with Savoeun, Peth persuaded him to buy the land.

He added that the land is worth $4 million and located in Tuol Sangke commune’s Tuol Sangke village.

Rithy said after agreeing on the land’s price, he and his wife on October 21, 2016, gave Savoeun $100,000, and later on September 21, gave another $200,000.

He said the two parties made a contract in which Peth signed as a witness.

He added that Savoeun promised the land deed and other related documents to him within five months of the first payment, and the rest of payment would be made after receiving the documents.

“However, after Savoeun had received the money, he did not transfer the land deed and other related documents to me as promised because the land did not belong to him,” Rithy said.

“After I demanded my money back, he kept delaying it and did not return it to me until today,” he said, adding that he has been trying for four years.

Rithy said that after losing hope that Savoeun and Peth would refund him, on May 8 last year he decided to lodge a lawsuit against both of them to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Savoeun and Peth could not be reached for comments yesterday.

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