A 40-year-old businesswoman went on trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly cheating her business partner out of more than $60,000 in a land sale involving nearly 700 hectares in Siem Reap and Kratie provinces last year.
Deputy prosecutor Oum Sopheak identified the accused as Kao Mila, a land broker living in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, who was charged with fraud.
She allegedly cheated her partner Duong Vannak, 38, who lodged a complaint over the matter that lead to her arrest.
Mr Vannak told the court yesterday that he had known Ms Mila since 2016 and she persuaded him to buy 91 hectares in Siem Reap province and 600 hectares in Kratie province in September last year.
He said he gave the accused $61,030 to pay villagers who owned the land and obtain transfer documents.
“But after she took the money, she did not have any land to offer to me as promised,” he said. “When I asked for my money back, she did not have it. She later disappeared and could not be contacted.”
Mr Vannak said that he reported the matter to the National Military Police in early December and the accused was arrested on December 9.
He told the judge that he wanted his money back and urged the court to punish Ms Mila to the full extent of the law.
In her defence, Ms Mila said a misunderstanding led to the land not being transferred to Mr Vannak.
Ms Mila claimed that provincial authorities did not process or issue transfer documents because the villagers were living on communal land, under the jurisdiction of the state.
She claimed she did not know the land was under the state and noted that she had accepted about $30,000 from Mr Vannak, which she used to pay the villagers.
“The money was paid to the villagers. I did not cheat Mr Vannak,” she said. “I would like to ask the judge to drop the charge and free me from prison.” A verdict is due August 7.