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Acleda bank heist hunt continues

Acleda bank heist hunt continues

130128 05
A group of men who were arrested after a botched bank robbery are paraded at a press briefing at the Kampong Cham provincial police station on Thursday. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Police in Kampong Cham province announced yesterday they were searching for two more suspects in connection with a bank heist that resulted in six men being arrested and charged with theft and unlawful raising of armed forces after a nearly 30-hour stand-off last Wednesday.

Chim Senghong, provincial deputy police chief responsible for serious crimes, said authorities were still searching for the brother of alleged mastermind Sin Kimthath, as well as another unidentified man suspected of selling the alleged bank robbers the gun used in the heist.

“Police are hunting for two accomplices: Sin Kimthath’s brother, Sin Kimthol, who escaped with $55,000 — but at the time, we did not know this — and another man whose identity we do not know who sold the gun to this group,” Senghong said.

The six suspects already in custody — branch financial director Kimthath; acting chief of finance Soy Lina; bank staffers Tin Kuyheng, An Matly and Roeun Socheat; and alleged gunman Sim Tola — were questioned by provincial police on Saturday and officially charged by the court yesterday, Senghong said.

“We decided to charge them with violent theft and forming illegal armed forces,” deputy prosecutor Real Sophin said.

“[For] each charge, [they] may face 10 years. The judge has finished questioning them and sent them to be detained at the provincial prison.”

Wednesday’s heist, during which hundreds of security personnel surrounded the tiny Beak Anlung branch, was staged to resemble a hostage crisis carried out by drug addicts in order to obscure the suspected motive of robbing the bank to cover up financial director Kimthath’s alleged embezzlement of about $20,000 from Acleda.

Acleda chief executive In Channy put the bank’s total losses at about $55,000.

“All the suspects must be responsible for paying what we lost back to us,” he said, adding that audits were ongoing and the bank had re-opened for business on Friday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]

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