The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a former consular official with the Foreign Ministry to three years in prison for signing false government documents to facilitate the sale of millions of dollars’ worth of luxury timber to Vietnam when he was stationed in Ho Chi Minh City between 2012 and 2014.
Taing Sok Ngy, 38, who also served as the general consul in Brunei and as the chief of the foreign minister’s planning office, was originally charged with forging the papers used by his co-defendants to shift $252 million of luxury wood across the border. The charge was later changed to “using” fake documents.
Throughout the trial, Sok Ngy maintained the other suspects in the case – Heng Ly, La On, Vann Sok Minh and Chun Thanh – were responsible for the scam and he had merely signed papers he believed were genuine and forwarded them to Vietnamese authorities.
Yesterday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court presiding judge Veng Huoth convicted Sok Ngy and his co-defendants, who were sentenced in absentia, to jail terms ranging from three to seven years.
Huoth said Sok Ngy’s sentence would be suspended by one year, while the defendants were also ordered to each pay a $2,000 fine.
Sok Ngy said he would consider appealing the “unjust” verdict. “I cannot accept [the decision] because I did not use any faked document,” he told the Post outside the court.