Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Embezzlement trial of media executive begins

Embezzlement trial of media executive begins

Embezzlement trial of media executive begins

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday heard the embezzlement case of a former executive for South East Asia Radio and TV, with the lawyer for the plaintiff demanding full repayment of US$7 million the executive allegedly stole from Japanese investors, as well as $500,000 in compensation.

Sem Sovandeth, who has been held in pretrial detention since October, did not attend the hearing, and presiding judge Oeung Sieng told the court that he had cited health reasons for his absence.

The complaint against Sem Sovandeth was filed last October after his former business partner, SEA TV director general Kao Kimhuon, told police he had discovered
“irregularities” in his colleague’s accounting practices.

Kao Kimhoun’s lawyer, Ing Kerya, told the court on Tuesday that Sem Sovandeth had deliberately misused money from the station’s Japanese backers.

“Sem Sovandeth used the money in the wrong way. He only bought low-quality equipment, and his bad intention was to keep [the remaining] money in his pocket,” Ing Kerya said.

He then lined up 20 SEA TV staff members to give statements accusing Sem Sovandeth of skimming from their salaries and misappropriating funds.

Yim Cheat Vannak, deputy chief of SEA TV’s technical department, told the court Tuesday that, in one instance, Sem Sovandeth embezzled about $1.3 million by citing false equipment prices.

“He requested $1.5 million to buy lights for the studio, but I found out that the equipment only cost $200,000,” he told the court.

Other witnesses told the court that Sem Sovandeth had lied to them about how much they were supposed to earn, and that he presumably pocketed the remaining cash.

But Sem Sovandeth’s lawyer, Vong Peakdey, said he did not believe the investigation that led to his client’s arrest had been thorough, and said he doubted that one person could be responsible for such large-scale fraud.

“I want the court to create an independent body to audit all incomes and expenses of the TV [station] so that the court can provide justice to my client,” he said.

Oeung Sieng told the court that a verdict in the case would be handed down on May 18.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all