Three men – one of them a former consul general at Cambodian embassies in Vietnam and Brunei – were tried by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for allegedly forging documents permitting the export of more than 100 tonnes of illegal luxury timber to Vietnam between 2012 and 2014.
Presiding judge Veng Huoth said former Foreign Ministry official Taing Sok Ngy, also known as Sokly, 38, was charged with signing and using falsified public documents.
Businessmen and co-defendants identified as Heng Ly, 52, and La On, 57 – both of whom are still at large – were charged with producing and using falsified documents.
Sok Ngy was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district in June of 2014.
Colonel Pal Sothy, a major crimes official at the Ministry of Interior, said that the accusations were levelled by Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol, after he found that the trio had faked ministry letters and his signature in order to authorise the export of the illegal timber.
But in court yesterday, Sok Ngy maintained he had been fooled by the fake paperwork.
“I recognise that I signed those documents, because I saw that they all were complete and there was an official letter issued and signed by the Cambodian Minster of Commerce . . . But I did not know that they were fake,” he told the court.
The hearing is set to continue on September 3.