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Fraud charge over land promises, NGO claims

Bun Thoeun poses for a photo at a Kampong Thom police station on Monday after he was arrested by authorities for fraud. National Police
Bun Thoeun poses for a photo at a Kampong Thom police station on Monday after he was arrested by authorities for fraud. National Police

Fraud charge over land promises, NGO claims

A man who allegedly presented himself as a member of a fictitious NGO in order to bilk at least nine Kampong Thom families of 200,000 riel ($50) each in exchange for promised social land concessions was charged with fraud on Tuesday at the provincial court.

Claiming membership in an NGO dubbed the 7 January Community Compassion for Development, Bun Thoeun, 57, allegedly promised residents in Sandan district’s Meanrith commune 2 hectares of farmland, a 30-metre-by-50-metre living space and a house as social land concessions in return for the 200,000 riel payment.

“When villagers came to ask for their land, he did not have it. So he just went from place to place to cheat and collect money,” said Kampong Thom deputy police chief Ke Khannara. He added that police initially received nine complaints, but more had since continued to stream in.

“Villagers just believed him . . . how could they get [the land and house] so easily?” he said. “The land in that area is very expensive.”

According to Khannara, the provincial administration found no registered NGO under the name Thoeun provided, concluding that manufacturing the fake civil society group constituted a second offence.

Kampong Thom provincial prosecutor Ith Sothea said Thoeun did not deny the accusation but claimed he had five other accomplices working in three other provinces, including Preah Vihear.

“We are currently investigating,” he said. “We have to stop such actions.”

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