Senator Kok An has withdrawn a civil suit seeking more than US$63 million from the husband and wife convicted last month of breach of trust for embezzling funds from his company Anco Brothers, Phnom Penh Municipal Court President Chiv Keng said yesterday.
“He has withdrawn his civil lawsuit against Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap, but he has included [his demand for repayment and compensation] in his criminal lawsuit,” Chiv Keng told the Post.
The request for $5 million in compensation and repayment of more than $58 million has been added to the criminal suit that will be heard at the Court of Appeal, Kok An’s lawyer Long Dara said.
Heng Chheang, former Anco deputy general director and his wife, Tep Kolap, former rector of the Phnom Penh International University, were found guilty last month of embezzling $34 million from the company between 2008 and 2010.
An independent audit, conducted after the initial charge, found that since 2001, Heng Chheang had transferred more than $58 million from the company to his and his wife’s bank accounts.
Long Dara said Kok An had withdrawn his civil suit on December 14 after adding a request for compensation and repayment to his criminal suit on December 8. The husband and wife were found guilty and each sentenced to four and a half years in prison on December 7.
“My client decided to withdraw his civil complaint against Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap because he did not want to waste his time,” Long Dara said.
Ourn Hing, a lawyer for Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap, said the maneuver was illegal.
The appeals court could only consider the verdict from the lower court, which had not included a request for repayment and compensation, he said. “I think this is a retreat [by Kok An] after Heng Chheang provided documents and proof that no money was lost from his company,” he said. Ourn Hing also reiterated that his clients were innocent, that their arrest was a violation of human rights, and that they were being illegally detained and kidnapped for ransom.
Heng Chheang said that since he and his wife had been arrested, his and nine other families had been driven into poverty because their property had been seized by the court and they were unable to repay loans.
He has said that Kok An was using the court to steal his property.