The Anti-Corruption Unit last week arrested a Banteay Meanchey provincial official and a lawyer for their alleged involvement in a purported fraud scandal that saw three others – including a British national – arrested early last year, officials said yesterday.
The arrests came roughly a month after ACU president Om Yentieng said that 10 individuals in Banteay Meanchey were under investigation for their alleged involvement in a fraudulent scheme to sell British pensioners stakes in a Cambodian biofuel plantation – a plan supposedly hatched by British national Greg Fryett, who was arrested by the ACU last March.
Last Thursday, former Banteay Meanchey deputy chief of administration Ouk Keo Rattanak – who was demoted in June – was arrested after being questioned along with several other provincial officials, said Svay Chek district governor Khou Pov, who was questioned himself but not arrested.
“The ACU questioned me about Meanchey Aphiwat [company] land and then released all of us,” he said. “They questioned seven people, but only Ouk Keo Rattanak was arrested. They questioned me about the company’s map related to the state land. That’s all.”
Lawyer Ty Pov was arrested the next day in connection with the same case, said Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Kor Sum Saroeut.
“Ouk Keo Rattanak was detained in relation with doctoring public documents and fraud, while the lawyer [Pov] was arrested over faking the documents, but I do not clearly know anything other than that because I am a new governor,” Sum Saroeut said. “Now they are being detained.”
Cambodian bar association spokesman Khim Sary said that he, too, was unsure of the precise charges Pov was facing.
“We have sent four lawyers to the province to study the case, [but] we do not know why they have arrested him,” he said. “He’s still a lawyer.”
Fryett, the British national, is suspected of using fake land deals to launder some $11 million allegedly taken from British clients. Fryett’s alleged Cambodian-American accomplices, Om Sam Ang and Soeun Denny, were arrested in January for allegedly faking public documents and clearing forest land.