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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Car fraud scam exposed

Car fraud scam exposed

THE Government has been defrauded out of more than $100,000 in a scam in which

used cars have been supplied to National Assembly steering committee members at

the new car price, according to an MP.

And as a bonus for the fraudsters

they also managed to get the Government to pay an additional $10,000 for each

car as tax.

The fraud was discovered by Sam Rainsy Party MP, Son Chhay,

when he went to the Huo Traco Ltd. Peugeot dealership on Norodom Boulevard in

Phnom Penh last Wednesday to pick up a vehicle entitled to him as a member of

the NA Steering Committee.

"The Steering Committee had some spare

funding, so it was decided that the money be used to purchase cars for the nine

members," Chhay said.

"But when I went to get the car I refused it

because it was obviously not a new car."

Chhay, a long-time critic of

government corruption and the sponsor of a draft bill for the establishment of

an official government anti-corruption board, demanded that the Huo Traco

employees surrender the documents about the vehicle's origin.

The

documents revealed that rather than a new model car which the government paid

$45,000 for, Chhay's dark blue Peugeot 605 was in fact more than seven years

old.

"In the documents it showed that [my car] was one of five imported

in 1992," Chhay explained. "Three of the cars had belonged to the British

Embassy and two had belonged to CDRI."

Brandishing the car's import form,

Chhay pointed out how the original tax payment number had been crudely whited

out, with a new number written over it to match that of the attached tax payment

certificate.

"That tax payment form is either stolen or an original copy

obtained fraudulently," Chhay said. "The government paid full price to the

company plus an additional $10,000 in tax."

On a visit made by the Post

to Huo Traco Peugeot last Friday, to seek clarification of Chhay's allegations,

Huo Traco employees confirmed that the dark blue Peugeot 605 in the corner of

the showroom was in fact Chhay's. However, they would not allow the Post to

photograph the car.

On a subsequent visit to the dealership on the

following Wednesday afternoon, a Peugeot employee assured the Post that no fraud

had occurred, and that the previous day Peugeot had arranged with a

representative of Chhay's to supply him with an alternate vehicle.

That

account of events was challenged later on Wednesday by Chhay.

"I sent my

driver to take a photograph of the car, but they wouldn't let him," Chhay

explained. "There's been no arrangement for me to get another

car."

According to Chhay, out of nine vehicles supplied by Peugeot to

Steering Committee members, seven were 1997 models and two were 1992 models.

The other 1992 model vehicle was supplied to H.E. Chhou Leang Huot,

chairman of the NA Commission on Human Rights, who apparently took receipt of

the car without question.

"I don't know why he accepted the car," Chhay

says of Huot. "That's something you'll have to ask him."

Attempts by the

Post to contact Huot were unsuccessful.

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