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Three arrested over fake dollars smuggling plan

Three men arrested over a plan to smuggle millions of dollars worth of counterfeit US banknotes into Cambodia with the help of Thai criminals used the name of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s chief bodyguard to secure the deal, a provincial court heard yesterday.

Pin Tipelo, 38, a bodyguard to four-star General Hing Bunheang, who is in charge of the premier’s personal security, Hean Bunkem, 30, and Ung Penktry, 50, were charged  with fraud in the Kandal Provincial Court for their role in the money-smuggling plot.

Cambodian authorities had investigated the three men for months before arresting them on October 18, an unnamed police officer told the Post.

Under the co-ordination of Pengkry, the trio allegedly met with Thai counterparts four times, beginning in late September, to discuss importing “millions” in fake US dollars from Thailand.

Pengkry told the men he was a close aide of the general and that Tipelo and Bunkem would be able to find local buyers for the counterfeit cash.

In the end, however, it was Hing Bunheang who alerted police to the plan after hearing of his name being connected to illegal dealings.

“They were arrested while they were meeting and discussing the plot to smuggle the fake US currency,” Kandal deputy police commissioner Colonel Roeun Nara said, noting that no cash had entered the Kingdom so far.

Police have narrowed their search to the Thai nationals – businessmen, according to the police officer – who were allegedly supplying the notes.

A spokesman for the US embassy said the US government held regular workshops with their Cambodian counterparts on “homing in” on money laundering and counterfeiting, but said the case was a matter for Cambodia.

Neither Bunheang, the deputy commander in chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, nor lawyers for the accused could be reached for comment yesterday.

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

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