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Gregg Fryett, who has been charged with bribery and faking documents, is escorted by police at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Gregg Fryett, who has been charged with bribery and faking documents, is escorted by police at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Hong Menea

Guilty verdict in Fryett case

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced British investor and alleged fraudster Gregg Fryett to eight years in prison, more than three years after he was first arrested, despite a last-minute injunction attempt requesting to delay the judgement for 60 days.

The petition for injunction, filed Tuesday night, cited “significant corruption, extortion and irregularities”.

Ignoring these protests, Judge Chuon Soreasey found Fryett guilty of all charges: fraud with aggravating circumstances, bribery, faking public documents, using those fake documents, and clearing and occupying state forests illegally.

Four of Fryett’s five co-defendants – Ouk Keo Rattanak; Soeun Denny; Ty Pov and Um Sam Ang – were found guilty of at least one of those charges and given sentences ranging from three to five years. Fellow co-defendant Hanh Chamrong, a member of Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit who is still at large, was found guilty of all charges and given nine years.

During the hearing, Fryett – who was also fined 10 million riel (about $2,500) – made his low opinion of the court apparent, laughing and shaking his head, and at one point briefly clapping. “The law doesn’t work here,” he said afterwards.

Fryett also maintained that both the judges and the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) had solicited him and his co-defendants for bribes.

“[The judges] want $200,000, and the ACU wants $300,000,” he said, claiming they have been solicited for payment from the ACU since the case began.

“The judges said to my lawyers that they don’t care about the law or the evidence,” he added later.

Both the president of the ACU, Om Yentieng, and judge Soreasey declined to comment.

Fryett vowed to appeal the sentence domestically, file a lawsuit against the ACU and take his evidence to an international court, adding that the judicial system’s failing reflects poorly on Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling party.

“I’d say it’s not a good day for the CPP either,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, defence lawyer for Denny and Sam Ang, said he didn’t know about the bribery allegations, but also promised to appeal.

“This case will make other investors think twice before coming to Cambodia,” he said in a phone interview.

Sam Oeun also repeated the claim that businesswoman Mao Malay, wife of Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kimyan, is responsible for the illegal logging and the forged documents.

Fryett is also wanted in the UK for allegedly defrauding senior citizens by selling them stakes in a spurious Cambodian biofuel company. He and his co-defendants allegedly set up shell companies and NGOs to launder money through fake land deals in Cambodia.

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