Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Legal battle intensified as amount of ‘stolen funds’ surged

Legal battle intensified as amount of ‘stolen funds’ surged

Legal battle intensified as amount of ‘stolen funds’ surged

120323_07

Read our full exclusive on the rector versus the tycoon

December 30, 2010: Kok An files a criminal lawsuit against former Anco Brothers executive Heng Chheang, accusing him of breach of trust in governance for allegedly stealing US$633,345.51 from Anco Brothers and other companies in Anco Group.

{jathumbnail}

Heng Chheang is arrested on the same day by the Ministry of Interior’s penal police and detained for questioning. Heng Chheang told the Post that he had previously brought to Kok An’s attention that there was an imbalance in the year-end account of Anco Brothers and assured the senator that if he could not balance the books he would personally repay any shortfall.

January 1, 2011: Heng Chheang is released on bail paid by his wife Tep Kolap after signing a statement saying that he stolen the amount in question. His lawyers have said that the confession was forced and a condition for being released. They also say it was accompanied by a second document that outlined a repayment plan by which Heng Chheang would repay about $100,000 per year, and that this was signed by one of Kok An’s lawyers. For her husband’s bail, Tep Kolap used land titles, $120,000 and the deed to a residence. Heng Chheang also surrendered his passport to police.

February 10, 2011: Kok An files a criminal lawsuit against Heng Chheang at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, accusing him in stealing $633, 345.51. Kok An also filed a civil lawsuit to regain the funds and seek compensation.

March 23, 2011: Kok An asks the Court to prevent Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap from selling, renting or transferring any property or possessions until the case is decided.  

March 24, 2011: An internal audit by Anco Brothers assistant auditor Trak Sophat finds that Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap siphoned $7,646,120 from Anco Brothers and Anco Electrical Power Group. Defence lawyers for Tep Kolap and Heng Chheang say Trak Sophat was not qualified to perform the audit.

March 28, 2011: Kok An files an additional lawsuit against Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap, accusing them of embezzling $7,646,120 and $633, 345.51 from his companies. He also requests $300,000 in compensation.

March 29, 2011: Phnom Penh Municipal Court prohibits Heng Chheang and his wife from selling, renting or transferring their property.

June 16, 2011: Kok An files another lawsuit accusing Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap of embezzling $33,850,245.96 based on a second audit conducted by Trak Sophat of the joint bank accounts registered in Anco Brothers director Sok Im and Heng Chheang’s names.

June 17, 2011: Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap are arrested while visiting relatives in Preah Sihanouk province on warrants issued by Investigating Judge Te Sam Ang. Defence lawyers for Tep Kolap say it was “irregular” that she was arrested prior to being questioned by the judge.

June 18, 2011: Investigating judge Te Sam Ang orders the couple be detained at Prey Sar Prison.

June 19, 2011: Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap’s defence lawyers write to Phnom Penh Municipal Court requesting that the arrest warrants be annulled, but the court does not consider their request. They argued that the evidence against the pair was weak, that the charge was not a felony and that separation from their three children would damage the family.  

June 21, 2011: Investigating Judge Te Sam Ang writes to Union Commercial Bank asking about transactions between accounts in Sok Im and Heng Chheang’s names and the account registered in Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap’s names.

August 10, 2011: Judge Te Sam Ang appoints Kak Key, director of Morison International & Associates, to conduct an independent audit of Anco Brothers and Anco Electrical Power Group in regard to expenditures and transactions among accounts in Cambodian Public Bank and UCB.

August 12, 2011: Heng Chheang writes to Judge Te Sam Ang requesting that an independent audit committee be established with participation of lawyers from both sides as well as expert auditors. The request is not accepted.   

August 16, 2011: Heng Chheang writes to Judge Te Sam Ang asking that the audit be expanded to include transactions at international clearing banks in New York as well as banks in Singapore. His request is accompanied by documents showing transfers made overseas, according to his defence team. The request is denied.

August 17, 2011: Tep Kolap writes to the Minister of Justice asking him to ensure the establishment of an independent auditing committee.

August 23, 25 and 29, 2011: Kak Key sends invitation letters to the defence team of Heng Cheang and Tep Kolap requesting that they meet at his office to discuss the audit. They lawyers reply, telling Kak Key he should interview Heng Chheang.

August 31, 2011: Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap file a complaint to the Court of Appeal asking it to overule the lower court’s decision to jail them.

September 6, 2011: Kak Key writes to Judge Te Sam Ang asking for permission to resign from the audit, saying he was stymied by a lack of cooperation from the defence.

September 8, 2011: Heng Chheang sues Trak Sophat for “faking by expertise” at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, based on the latter’s audit which found that $33,850,245.96 was siphoned from his joint accounts with Sok Im. Heng Chheang requests compensation of $10,000 and that Trak Sophat be punished according to the law.

October 4, 2011: Heng Chheang writes to Judge Te Sam Ang, asking that auditor Kak Key be replaced. He proposes that one of three international firms be selected, but the request is rejected.   

October 18, 2011: Minister of Justice Ang Wongvatana writes to Phnom Penh Municipal Court President Chiv Keng asking him to consider the creation of an independent audit committee for the case, as requested by the defendants.

October 20, 2011: Trak Sophat is charged with “faking by expertise” by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s deputy prosecutor Khieu Phalla based on Heng Chheang’s September 8 complaint that the assistant auditor lacked the expertise.

October 26, 2011: Heng Chheang files a complaint against Kak Key to the National Accounting Council, accusing him of breaching its code.  

November 1, 2011: Kok An submits another civil lawsuit to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, accusing Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap of embezzling $58,339,919.77 based on the audit concluded by Kak Key on October 11. Kok An asks for $5 million in compensation and for temporary control of Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap’s property.

November 17, 2011: The Court of Appeal denies Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap’s appeal of the lower court’s decision to jail them.  

November 18, 2011: Heng Chheang writes to the Minister of Economy and Finance requesting that disciplinary action be taken against Kak Key over his audit.

December 6, 2011: The hearing against Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap proceeds without their or their lawyer’s presense. Tep Kolap was hospitalised at the Soviet-Khmer Friendship Hospital, suffering from a peptic ulcer and “psychotic depression”, according to a medical report. Her husband was in the medical ward of Prey Sar prison, suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes. Their lawyers were at hearings in other provinces on that day. Their request to delay the hearing was denied. The court also raised the charge against Tep Kolap from being an accomplice in breach of trust to breach of trust in governance.

December 7, 2011: Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap are sentenced to four-and-a-half-years in prison each, six months less than the maximum sentence.

December 9, 2011: The Ministry of Economy and Finance writes to Kak Key telling him to immediately inform the court that his audit was unfinished and presented only one side of the transactions.

December 14, 2011: Kok An withdraws his civil suit against Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap and says he will include a demand that the money lost be returned and compensation paid in his criminal suit.

December 26, 2011: Kok An files a complaint against Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap over advertisements they placed in Khmer-language newspapers defending themselves and attacking him.

March 1 and 2, 2012: Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap are tried by the Court of Appeal with participations of both parties and their defence lawyers. Between 400 and 500 university students and academics attend the hearing.

March 12, 2012: The Court of Appeal reduces the sentences of Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap to three years in jail each, but upholds their earlier convictions. They are ordered to repay Kok An $58,339,919.17 as well as $50,000 in compensation. Hundreds of university students chant “injustice”.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vincent MacIsaac at [email protected]
With assistance from Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • PM warns party of complacency in leaked audio

    Two leaked audio tapes, purportedly of Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking candidly to senior officials, appear to hint at insecurities within the ruling party over the controversial dissolution of the country’s main opposition, with the premier warning that the party’s “struggle” didn’t

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • Music festival promises big stage, has even bigger hopes

    With a line-up of local and international artists, and a massive outdoor venue booked on Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, Saturday’s Diamond Moon Festival is aiming to showcase contemporary musical and artistic talents at a scale rarely seen in the Kingdom. [img] But the