A former Cambodian ambassador to Brunei charged with stealing more than US$430,000 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was tried in absentia yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said Nan Sy, who completed his term as ambassador in May, was charged on June 17 after it was discovered he had stolen $432,876 slated for the construction of an office at his embassy in 2008.
“He was a Cambodian ambassador who was a representative of the government in Brunei, but he had been involved with exploiting the government’s money for his own interests,” Kor Vandy said.
Nan Sy – also a former Funcinpec parliamentarian – was charged based on a complaint from Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, he added.
Ky Tech, a lawyer for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the suspect had fled Brunei after he was asked about a bill that had arrived at the ministry’s doorstep for $432,876 from the boss of the Brunei Construction Company – money that had been paid to Nan Sy in instalments.
“I would like to ask the court to force him to return US$432,876.65 to the Ministry, and ask him to pay 200 mill-ion riel in compensation.
"I would also like to ask the court to issue a warrant to arrest him and punish him strongly by the law,” he said.
The court should also auction two plots of land owned by Nan Sy in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham province to recover the missing funds, Ky Tech added.
Nan Sy could not be reached yesterday, but Keo Ya, his defence lawyer, denied his client had done any wrong and called on the court to drop the charge against him.
“The accusation is an injustice for my client, because there is no real proof or evidence to demonstrate that he had exploited the money from the construction of an embassy office in Brunei, as accused,” Keo Ya said.
In a May 23 interview with the Cambodia edition of the Global Business and Newspaper and Magazine, Nan Sy lauded the completion of Cambodia’s embassy in Brunei.
“Under my term, we also managed to construct our own embassy. No longer are we renting a building in Bandar (Seri Begawan).
“So this is a big achievement for Cambodians in Brunei,” he told the publication.
Funcinpec party spokesman Tum Sombol said yesterday Nan Sy was “not a stable” politician and that he had defected from his party to the CPP in 2006.
“[He was] very close with the Malaysians and the Indonesians, and was very interested in profit. He liked to make profit,” Tum Sombol said.
Judge Kor Vandy said the verdict in Nan Sy’s case would be announced on November 25.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE