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Broker charged with fraud in case of girl at labour training firm

Broker charged with fraud in case of girl at labour training firm

A MAN accused of brokering a deal to enroll an underage girl in a migrant labour training programme using falsified identification documents has been charged with fraud and placed in pretrial detention, officials said yesterday.

Meas Chanpiseth, deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said 28-year-old Kao Setha was charged on Monday evening.

“We have charged the accused, Kao Setha, with fraud under Article 45 of the UNTAC criminal code,” he said. “He has been ordered to serve pretrial detention by an investigating judge pending further investigation of the charges.”

Kao Setha was arrested on Friday after officials at the VC Manpower recruitment firm filed a complaint accusing him of falsifying documents in order to submit a 16-year-old girl to a training programme that would prepare her to work as a domestic aid in Malaysia.

According to a 1994 subdecree on migrant labour, trainees must be at least 18 years old before being sent overseas for employment.

The girl’s mother, who was suspected of involvement in the scam, was also arrested on Friday and held for questioning, but Meas Chanpiseth said yesterday that she was released Monday evening.

“We didn’t charge the victim’s mother after we learned that she was not involved with the crime,” he said. “But we have instructed her not to take her underage daughter to any more recruitment training centres because it is against the law.”

Sen Ly, the director of VC Manpower, said the mother and the broker had presented the company with falsified documents identifying the girl as older than 18, but that staff at the training centre had later discovered her real age.

“We decided to lodge a complaint to municipal Anti-Human Trafficking Bureau about this case because it could strongly impact our company’s reputation,” he said.

He said that the mother and the broker had received 400,000 riels (about US$95) and 100 kilograms of rice in exchange for enrolling the girl in the training programme, a loan that the girl was expected to repay after the company found her a job.

Under Article 45 of the UNTAC criminal code, a fraud conviction can result in a prison sentence of between one and five years. A trial date has not been set.

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