Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried two women accused of circulating counterfeit US currency in the city in February.
Judge Kor Vandy identified the accused as Ly Sreypov, 36, a fruit vendor living in Kampong Cham province’s Batheay district, and her sister-in-law Chan Sareth, 52, who is jobless and lives in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.
He noted that Ms Sreypov and Ms Sareth were arrested at about 11.45pm on February 7 and were charged with circulating counterfeit currency. They face up to five years in prison if convicted.
Judge Vandy said that at about 11.30pm on February 7, the accused travelled by motorbike to stay at a guesthouse in Tuol Kork district.
He said that when checking into the guesthouse, Ms Sreypov gave a fake $50 banknote to Ms Sareth to pay for a room.
Judge Vandy noted that Ms Sareth gave the note to guesthouse owner Heng Vongrady to get change after paying for the room which cost $6 per night.
“After receiving the $50 banknote, Mr Vongrady inspected it and found it to be counterfeit currency,” he said. “He reported the matter to local police.”
“The two accused were arrested by police at the guesthouse that night,” he added.
Judge Vanday said that after their arrests, police seized a total of $740 in counterfeit US currency in $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
During the trial yesterday, both women denied the charges, saying that they did not know the money was counterfeit.
They said that they only knew the money was fake after police showed it to them and explained that it was counterfeit.
Ms Sreypov told the court that a few days before her arrest she was involved in a traffic accident in Kampong Cham province. She said a Highlander SUV hit her motorbike from behind and damaged it.
Ms Sreypov claimed that the SUV driver, whom she did not know, paid her the $740 in compensation.
“I acknowledge that I was in possession of the $740 in counterfeit currency,” she told the court. “I received the notes from a stranger who compensated me after the accident.”
“I only knew that it was counterfeit after police arrested me,” she added.
Ms Sareth told the court that she was a victim in the case because the notes did not belong to her and she did not know the money was counterfeit.
“I admit that I took the $50 note from my sister-in-law to pay for the guesthouse room,” she said. “But I did not know it was counterfeit.”
“If I had known that it was counterfeit money, I would not have taken it. I am innocent so please drop the charge and release me,” she added.
A verdict is due November 29.