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Job too hot for auditors

121228 07
Heng Chheang at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh in early December 2012. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

Things were looking up for convicted embezzler Heng Chheang.

Evidence in his appeal triggered the October release of his wife, Tep Kolap, a co-defendant in the case.

Afterwards, in mid-December, a judge allowed Chheang to appoint an independent auditor to reinvestigate the allegedly illegal financial transactions he made while general director of Senator Kok An’s Anco Brothers Co. There’s just one catch. Nobody wants the job.

“Heng Chheang is now facing a problem, because no auditor dares to help him,” Chan Bora, a relative, told the Post yesterday.

“They do not want to get involved with him and his case. And auditors said that they will [only] help him if they got requests or appointments from the court.”

He added that relatives and defence lawyers unsuccessfully tried to persuade auditors in Cambodia to take the position.

All declined.  

It was a step back in an increasingly favourable appeals process for Chheang. During the appeal, it emerged that the audit used to convict him on charges of embezzling more than $58 million from Kok An’s business interests was incomplete.

The information led to his wife’s release.

A new hearing was supposed to occur once the up-to-date audit came in. That might not happen now.

Bora said that to resolve the problem, Chheang and his defence lawyers will write to the Court of Appeal soon and ask for a decision on the case.

Orn Hing, a defence lawyer for Chheang, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Chay Chandaravann, the court’s presiding judge, could not be reached.

Long Dara, the lawyer for senator and tycoon Kok An, said that his party accepted the ruling allowing Chheang to pick a new auditor.

“We have the will to resolve and put an end to this story, but we want each party to recognise the truth in this case,” he said.

 

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

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