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Four-year-old fraud case back in municipal court

Cambodian-American businessman San Richer (center) is led away by prison guards after his hearing at the Appeal Court in 2014.
Cambodian-American businessman San Richer (center) is led away by prison guards after his hearing at the Appeal Court in 2014. Kim Sarom

Four-year-old fraud case back in municipal court

The trial of Cambodian-American businessman San Richer and three others accused of defrauding a local businesswoman out of a $1 million investment in 2012 resumed yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The complainant, Eng Lykuong, had alleged she invested $1 million in a rice venture called AKRA in return for a position on its board of directors, but was never appointed and never saw her money again.

Apart from Richer, Siv Sichan, a former US ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council, as well as American businessmen Thomas Willems and William Nojay were named as co-conspirators. Earlier this month, Nojay, who was a New York state assemblyman, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

At yesterday’s hearing, Lykuong produced news clips of Nojay’s death, claiming that his apparent suicide was related to her case. “He had other cases of $2 billion, including the $1 million in Cambodia. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working on these cases,” she said.

Following his death, American news outlets reported that Nojay was under FBI scrutiny for a $1.3 billion school modernisation program in New York.

Lykuong added that the quartet functioned as an “organised group”, and had planned to defraud her from the onset.

However, a defence lawyer for Richer, Kheng Ly, refuted Lykuong’s allegations, claiming AKRA was still operational as of November 2015 and Lykuong was indeed a board member.

But court prosecutor Che Song maintained there was enough evidence to convict the four men of fraud, with judge Svay Tonh saying the hearing would resume October 20.

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