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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fugitive’s parents hand over pate business to friends

Fugitive’s parents hand over pate business to friends

Following their arrest last week, the parents of fugitive tycoon Thong Sarath have released a letter through their lawyer transferring the management of their meat products company, Pate 999, to five family associates.

The letter, dated Saturday, hands over authority of the company to Pchus Chenda, Euoen Somnang, Yeort Toun, Pham Thi My Chau, and Nguyen Dinh Tuan.

They are “close to the owners” the family’s lawyer, Hae Cheav Eng, said yesterday. They will look after Pate 999 during their absence, he added.

The parents of the outlaw businessman Sarath, were arrested on December 3 and charged with weapons possession on Sunday. Keo Sary and her husband, Tang Sok, have stridently defended their son in the murder case of rival businessman Ung Meng Cheu, who was gunned down outside a fruit shop in Phnom Penh in November.

The family business, Pate 999 sells a meat pate that is popular in roadside stalls across the country.

Independent legal expert Sok Sam Oeun told the Post yesterday that the transfer of the firm to family associates is within the law.

“This transfer letter is based on the law, as this is not the transferring of property,” Sam Oeun said.

The Sarath family empire, Meanchey International Investment, has a variety of business interests and is best known for its large property developments in Phnom Penh including the Borey 999 apartment project.

The business has been hit with queries from nervous investors ever since Sarath was fingered as the prime suspect and went in to hiding last week. Several of his bodyguards have also been arrested for the hit.

A recording emerged on Monday in social media in which the tycoon reportedly appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen for justice and claimed his family’s bank accounts had been frozen.

“This injustice will bankrupt my company [Borey 999],” Sarath is alleged to have said in the recording.

Legal expert Sam Oeun said that if true, the court “had no right to [freeze assets] since the suspect has not been defined as a criminal by the judge yet”.

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

While Pate 999 has had a change of management, the Borey 999 construction company, which is directly owned by Thong Sarath rather than his parents, said its structure would remain unaffected by the investigation.

A Borey 999 manager who asked not to be named said the business would carry on as usual, as the investigation only involved an individual and not the company itself.

Investors in the apartment complex, however, where nervous this week, with rumours surfacing on social media that buyers had convened on Monday to withdraw their deposits.

The manager said no one had withdrawn their money from the construction project, but many clients were concerned.

“Many clients have been coming to the office or calling to ask for information [about the investigation],” the manager said.

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