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Another adviser to Chea Sim in court

Yet another of Chea Sim’s inner circle is facing the prospect of a prison term.

Mey Ratha, an adviser to the Senate president, will face criminal charges in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today for breach of trust after allegedly bouncing a cheque worth US$250,000 in a business deal in Phnom Penh in 2008, court documents show.

According to the documents, obtained by the Post yesterday, Ratha attempted to sell two plots of land zoned for factory construction in the capital’s Russey Keo district and signed a contract offering a $250,000 commission to businessman Chhorn Sarane to secure a buyer.

However, the documents state that when Sarane arranged for businesswoman Chhin Sokuntheary to buy Ratha’s land at a price of about US$4 million, he refused to pay the commission as promised. When Sarane threatened legal action, Ratha gave him a cheque for $250,000, which bounced.

If found guilty, Ratha could face three years in prison in addition to being liable for the original amount of the cheque plus damages.

Kao Soupha, Sarane’s lawyer, said that Ratha was first sued by Sarane in March, 2009 and officially charged with breach of trust under articles 391 and 392 of the Cambodian Penal Code later that year, but the hearing had been delayed until today.

“He has owed my client’s commission money, a total of $250,000, since 2008,” Soupha told the Post yesterday. “He issued a cheque worth US$250,000 to my client to get the money from a bank, but the account didn’t have any currency.”

According to Soupha, a guilty verdict would protect others from abuses of power, not just his client.

“To prevent this person from using his influence as Samdech Chea Sim’s adviser to cheat other people in future, I would like to ask the court to strongly punish him by law,” he said.

“I would also like to ask him to make the $250,000 payment, and pay another $50,000 in compensation to my client.”

Neither Mey Ratha nor his defence lawyers could be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaskmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com

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