Businessman goes on trial for $3.5m fraud

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Police escort the accused to Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Supplied

A spare car parts owner went on trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly cheating a timber businessman out of $3.5 million over the sale and export of timber to China.

The offence took place between 2013 and 2015. The accused, Sam Oeun, 59, was arrested on September 14, 2016.

Presiding Judge Ros Piseth said the accused was charged with fraud and faces between six months to three years if convicted.

The accused allegedly cheated timber businessman Hok Cheavin, 45, out of $3.5 million.

During yesterday’s trial, Mr Cheavin told the court that he came to know the accused in 2012 through Shao Jianfen, a close friend from China.

He said because the timber business with China was a lucrative one, he created his own business in 2013, collecting and buying stock from other local timber companies for export.

Mr Cheavin said he believed the accused knew many Cambodian officials, so he paid him about $3.5 million in 2014 as service fees for helping him obtain a timber export licence.

“But since I paid him the money, he has not given the licence to me, or any other related documents as promised,” he said. “I demanded my money back and he has not returned it. He has cheated me.”

The accused denied the allegations while admitting that he received $1.5 million from Mr Cheavin for fees for seeking the licence.

He said that because the government had stopped the export of timber at the end of 2015, he could not get the licence and other related documents for Mr Cheavin.

He added that the reason why he refused to pay Mr Cheavin back was because he demanded a bigger amount and sued him while negotiations were ongoing.

The trial is set to continue later this month.

According to court documents obtained by Khmer Times yesterday, besides the current case, the accused was previously charged with “fraud and issuing bad cheque” after being accused by Mr Jianfen, an investor representing a Chinese company based in Cambodia.

He was convicted by the municipal court and sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2017.

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