Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted in absentia a woman and her husband and sentenced them both to 18 months each in jail for cheating a Japanese businessman out of $180,000 in 2016.
Judge Ros Piseth identified them as Men Sreymom, 39, and her 43-year-old husband Keo Vanthan. They are both land brokers from Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.
Judge Piseth said they were both charged with fraud following a complaint filed against them by Takahasi Akirhino, a Japanese national and general director of a Japanese-owned microfinance bank and living in Por Senchey district.
“Based on the trial and evidence presented to the court, the court finds them both guilty,” Judge Piseth said. “Therefore, the court has decided to convict them and sentence both to 18 months each in jail.”
“The court has issued a warrant for their arrest and orders police to find them and bring them in to serve their sentences,” he added.
Ms Sreymom and Mr Vanthan were also ordered to pay a total of $143,500 to the plaintiff.
During a hearing on August 12, Mr Takahasi told the court that he came to Cambodia as an investor and invested in a microfinance bank in Phnom Penh in 2015.
Mr Takahasi said that a few months after his microfinance bank was established, Ms Sreymom and her husband became customers and often took out loans to buy land in the outskirts of the city to sell.
Mr Takahasi noted that they would pay their fees regularly, adding that he grew to trust Ms Sreymom and Mr Vanthan.
In March 2016, the couple persuaded Mr Takahasi to do business with them and buy four plots of land located in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey commune and another in Kandal province’s Takhmao city.
They demanded $240,500 for the land in Phnom Penh and Mr Takahasi paid $180,000.
“After I paid $180,000 to Ms Sreymom and her husband, I travelled by myself to see the land I paid for and met with the previous land owner,” he said. “The owner of the land that was sold to me told me that the original price of the land was only $100,500.”
“But Ms Sreymom and Mr Vanthan told me that it cost $240,500. They cheated me,” he added.
Mr Takahasi said he demanded his money back, which they promised to return. However, the two fled and could not be contacted.
Mr Takahasi said he filed a complaint against them to Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2017 to demand justice.