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Auditors step in for embezzlement case

Auditors step in for embezzlement case

Two government auditors have been appointed to re-evaluate the case of ex-Anco Bros executive Heng Chheang, who was convicted of embezzling tens of millions of dollars from Senator Kok An, a court official said yesterday.

According to the official, who asked not to be named, the Appeal Court has appointed Thuch Panhchak Kampol and Sar Piseth – two employees of the National Audit Authority – to examine anew the transactions from Chheang’s tenure after it came to light that the audit on which he was convicted looked only at expenditures and not incomes.

The revelation was enough to secure the release of Chheang’s wife, Tep Kolap, and prompted the court to allow Chheang to select an auditor of his choosing to reinvestigate, though for months the job proved too sensitive for independent auditors.

He ultimately asked that the government appoint its own auditors.

“They will start re-auditing on May 20, and their re-auditing will take place over a period of one month,” the official said.

Chay Chandaravann, the Appeal Court judge in charge of the case, could not be reached for comment.

But according to a copy of his May 4 letter to the new investigators, “the appointed auditors must fulfil their duties with independence, neutrality, sincerity, respect for the code of conduct and professional confidentiality”.

“But they must operate under the control of the Appeal Court council of judges,” he added.

Chan Bora, a relative of Chheang, said that the two appointees were only qualified to audit government institutions, not private-sector businesses like Kok An’s. “However, in order to find justice and the truth for Mr Heng Chheang, our party has accepted the recruitment and appointment of these two auditors by the Appeal Court,” he continued. “If they are not independent when re-auditing, we will request that the court change them.”

Bora added that Chheang had also requested that new judges be appointed to hear the new appeal, citing bias on the old bench.

Long Dara, Kok An’s lawyer, could not reached for comment yesterday.

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