Phnom Penh Municipal Court has charged an internal auditor for Senator Kok An with “falsification by an expert” for allegedly faking the audit that formed the basis for An’s legal complaint against former employee Heng Chheang, who was convicted in 2011 of defrauding the tycoon.
According to an August 18 indictment filed by vice prosecutor Soeu Vanny, the court has charged 29-year-old Trak Sophat, then an assistant to the chief internal auditor of An’s Anco Brothers Co, for offering a false report to An in 2011 accusing Chheang of stealing more than $4 million.
The case against Chheang has grown increasingly shaky after it was revealed that the independent audit that allegedly showed him embezzling $58 million only took into account withdrawals and not deposits, prompting the release of Chheang’s wife, Tep Kolap, and a court-ordered re-investigation of the case.
In the indictment, Vanny alleges that “Sophat made an audit report on monetary transactions and other expenditures … that were made by Mr Heng Chheang to oknha Kok An emphasising that Mr Heng Chheang had improperly withdrawn a total of $4,684,120 from two banks”.
However, in that report, she continues, Sophat only audited outgoing transactions, prompting An to file legal complaints against Chheang and Kolap, which ultimately resulted in their convictions.
“This above act was a crime of falsification by an expert, a crime which is provided for and punishable by Article 551 of the Penal Code of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Therefore, the prosecutor decided to open an investigation into the above case, and decided to put Mr Trak Sophat under the court’s control,” the indictment reads.
According to court documents, the charge marks the second time Sophat has been accused of falsifying his audit, but the original allegation – levelled in 2011 – was later dropped by investigating judge Leang Sam Nath.
If found guilty, Sophat could face between two and five years in prison, and fines ranging from four million to 10 million riel ($1,000 to $2,500).
But Sophat yesterday brushed off the charges.
“I think that this is the company’s issue, and the company will handle it for me,” he said, declining to comment further.
An and his lawyers could not be reached for comment.