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Ex-Chea Sim adviser tried over bad cheque

Mey Ratha, a former adviser to Senate president Chea Sim, was tried in absentia yesterday for breach of contract after allegedly writing a bad cheque for US$250,000 in a 2008 Phnom Penh land deal.

Kong Sam Sareth, a deputy prosecutor for the court, said the contract between Ratha and alleged victim Chhorn Sarane, and Ratha’s own 2011 confession, indicated that he still owed a $250,000 commission to Sarane, and that he had tried to pass a bad cheque for that amount.

“Based on the proof and the suspect’s confession, the representing prosecutor has seen that Mey Ratha had no intention of paying the owed money to the victim, and had issued a cheque without currency to him,” Sareth said.

Kao Soupha, a lawyer for Sarane, said Mey Ratha had owed his client money since 2008, when he offered Sarane a $250,000 commission to find a buyer for some industrially zoned land, then dodged payment when the job was done, eventually offering Sarane a series of bad cheques.

Ratha is on the run from an arrest warrant issued in October last year. According to Soupha, he is thought to be hiding in Malaysia.

In an attempt to obtain his money, Sarane filed a criminal suit in March, 2009.

“Because Ratha was afraid of his arrest and jail, he issued a cheque for $250,000 to my client to get the money from a bank, but the cheque had no currency,” Soupha said. “And second, he sent two other separate cheques to the victim, with one cheque worth $110,000 and another cheque worth $140,000, but there was not any currency.”

Soupha called on the court to punish Ratha with the full weight of the law, not only on behalf of his client, but in order to prevent what he described as future abuses of power.

Ratha is the sixth former Chea Sim adviser to face criminal charges in the past year.

He had no representation at yesterday’s trial.

According to a court clerk who declined to be named, no lawyer would take on his case because they feared they would not be paid.

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

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