Suong Veasna, a former deputy chief of cabinet and police officer with the rank of colonel at the Ministry of Interior, was tried yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on allegations he bilked $20,000 out of two Chinese businessmen in exchange for promising to help them apply for Cambodian citizenship in 2012.
Judge Chea Sok Heang said Veasna, 54, was charged by the court prosecutor with fraud and was arrested by the Ministry of Interior’s penal police on December 24.
Major General In Bora, chief of the Penal Police Department at the Ministry of Interior, said Veasna was arrested based on complaints that the victims filed with the ministry.
“He had promised to prepare documents working with other relevant Cambodian competent authorities in gaining Khmer citizenship for two Chinese men in order for them to live and work legally in Cambodia,” he said.
“He took $10,000 from each person for the work and promised that the work will be completely done in the period of two weeks. But he failed to do it, and did not return the money to the victims.”
During his hearing, Veasna said he had made a mistake, but that he only received $17,000 from the two men.
He added that had he returned $7,000 to them, and only owes them $10,000.
“I would like to ask the court to drop charges against me and release me, so that I will able go out from prison in order to find money to return to the victims.”
Veasna’s verdict is due to be handed down on October 8.
If convicted, it would be the second time for Veasna. On July 1, he was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay thousands in fines and damages to another Chinese businessman whom he failed to help with a citizenship application in 2012.