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Carvers 'scammed'

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Chik Phanith, 23, carries a partially carved wooden dolphin at a woodworking shop near Kampi Rapids, in Kratie province, in February.

A local  journalist who allegedly used   the wife of the Prime Minister Bun Rany’s name to extort money from craftsmen in Kratie province’s Chet Borey district was arrested on Monday.

Kratie provincial police chief Chhoung Seang Hak said yesterday that Khe Kuy Ornn, 38, was arrested for scamming local dolphin carvers out of between 10,000 and 30,000 riel.

Chhoung Seang Hak added that Khe Kuy Ornn worked as a journalist for Ponleu Sereipheap newspaper.  

Ly Phearak, 26, a dolphin carver, said yesterday that Khe Kuy Ornn came to his place of business last Friday, told the carvers that he was a representative of Bun Rany and demanded 2,000 riel from each of the craftsmen.

“He told us that he was collecting  the money in order to protect us from local officials who were threatening to close our business,” Ly Phearak said.

In July, a woman in Siem Reap province was arrested and charged with fraud after posing as an associate of Bun Rany and persuading local residents to pay her in exchange for her alleged connections.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said many times that posing as him or anyone from his family was illegal and such imposters would be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  

Last year, an editor of Ponleu Sereipheap, Chum Bunheap, was also arrested for extortion after allegedly pretending to be a government official and demanding money from a private electricity company in the capital’s Sen Sok district.

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