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Businessman makes bail bid

Cambodian-American businessman San Richer
Cambodian-American businessman San Richer (second left) is led away by prison guards after his hearing at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. KIM SAROM

Businessman makes bail bid

The Appeal Court heard in a closed-door session yesterday the bail request of jailed Cambodian-American businessman San Richer, who is accused of helping defraud a local businesswoman out of a $1 million investment in Phnom Penh in 2012.

The complaint against Richer, 52, was filed by businesswoman Eng Lykuong. It also names Siv Sichan, a former US ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council, as well as American businessmen Thomas Willems and William Nojay as alleged conspirators.

According to the complaint, filed in June, the group persuaded Eng Lykuong to invest $1 million in a rice exporting venture in 2012, but after receiving the money, disappeared. Richer was arrested and detained in Phnom Penh’s Police Judiciary prison in September, while the other three suspects have left the country.

Speaking outside court, Lykuong said she was pushing for substantial damages. “I suggest the court punish the suspect, and I demand the [$1 million] back and compensation of $200,000 for the expense of this case,” she said.

But Richer maintained his innocence, saying that he had been a low-level staffer with no knowledge of the investment. He also called on the court to grant his bail request, saying he suffered from high blood pressure, and promised to answer any future summonses.

However, attorney Orn Hyng, who represents Lykuong, said yesterday that he was sceptical of Richer’s health claims. He also said that he feared Richer was a flight risk because of his US residency.

“The suspect told the court that he is a normal staffer, but in this case, he was the main person among the four, because he recommended my client transfer the money, and he told my client that the money was received,” he said.

Prosecutor Pan Kemlean seemed to agree, saying that the court should think twice about granting the bail request given the enormity of the sum in question – even if Richer put up an equal amount as a bail deposit.

Presiding judge In Vanvibol said a decision on bail would be made on October 9.  

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