The National Police on Monday detained Seng Sopheak, the owner of Seng Huot car dealership, pending a court appearance on fraud charges after he was arrested on Sunday following complaints filed by some 100 people.
The people claimed to have been cheated by Sopheak into paying thousands of dollars each to buy cars from the firm but never receiving the vehicles.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Monday that Sopheak had been detained and authorities were building a case to be presented to court.
“We can detain him for a maximum of 48 hours. We are preparing a case to be sent to court, perhaps on Monday evening.
“There are too many issues and we cannot let the matter lie. To the people who were affected and are protesting, please go home and wait for the court’s decision,” he said.
Sopheak was arrested by Ministry of Interior police at 1am on Sunday at a soup shop on Street 289 in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak I commune and subsequently sent to the ministry for questioning.
Kim Khoeun said the complainants claim they have been cheated since late last year, saying they bought the cars from Seng Huot but later the firm revoked the deals.
Some claimed to have paid their deposits but not received their cars, while some who had already received their cars feared that their vehicles would be seized. It is alleged that the company has provided spurious reasons to return the cars – such as taking them in for repairs – but then failed to return them afterwards.
Sopheak’s lawyer, Mann Sophal, confirmed to The Post on Monday that his client had been detained but declined to comment further.
Loeung Sivmeng, one of the buyers in question, told The Post on Monday that before Sopheak was detained, the victims had sought intervention from everywhere they could think of. Some had even gathered to petition the Ministry of Interior, he added.
“We hope to obtain proper resolutions and that everyone who’s involved will be summoned – including other car firms and banks,” Sivmeng said.
Fraud is defined under Article 377 of the Criminal Code as “the act of deceiving . . . by the use of a false name or a fictitious capacity, by the abuse of a genuine capacity, or by means of unlawful manoeuvres, in order to obtain . . . the transfer of funds, valuables or any property; the provision of a service; or the making of a document incurring or discharging an obligation”.
Article 378 states that fraud is punishable by imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine of one to six million riel ($250 to $1,500).
Seng Huot car dealership – which buys, sells and hires all kinds of cars – is located in Chaom Chao commune in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district.
The firm is also involved with partner firms such as NH Cars, located in Sen Sok district’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune in the capital.
It has been claimed that the alleged fraud victims have seen their reclaimed cars being supplied to other customers by NH Cars.