A legal team from the government has held their first meeting with the victims of disgraced former Oknha Leng Channa, whose Brilliant City World Co Ltd is accused of defrauding investors.

The victims have now begun the process of applying for government lawyers to represent them and seek compensation.

During the May 29 meeting in Phnom Penh, 248 victims summited thumbprinted letters to the lawyers. Thousands of others are expected to apply for representation. 

The lawyers have explained the process to the signatories.

Ky Tech, head of the government’s legal team, said the victims must grant the lawyers permission to represent them in the courts, and added that without legal representation, the process could be very confusing for ordinary citizens.

“Without a clear explanation, some will not grant formal permission to a lawyer, and thumbprint the permission. If they do not do this, when the cases reach court, the court will not recognise the lawyer’s right to represent them,” he explained.

He warned that while the lawyers will represent them, they cannot guarantee the outcome of any case.

“We will defend their legal rights and their interests, but the result of each case is will be at the decision of the court. Lawyers cannot guarantee success or failure to a client, or the amount of compensation they might receive,” he said.

“As lawyers, we will do our best, but the result is up to the court,” he added.

Once they have appointed a lawyer to represent them, each plaintiff in the case must cooperate with their lawyer and provide documents that can be used for their case.

Nearly 250 plaintiffs in the Brilliant City World fraud case meet with government lawyers in Phnom Penh on May 29. Ky Tech FB

Tech explained that by working closely with the victims, the government lawyers can collect relevant information and receive suggestions from them personally, making sure the work goes smoothly.

A 28-year-old man, one of the 248 people to sign up on the first day, said after the meeting that he was confident of receiving justice or compensation. He claimed that he and his brother each invested $10,000 with Brilliant City World in April 2023.

“The explanation of the lawyers made us hopeful that we will see some compensation, but they emphasised that they could not guarantee the amount, or whether the court process will be fast or slow. We must let them work first,” he added.

Nou Ratha, who lost $235,500 to the company, said he and over 300 victims from his group have not yet met with the lawyers and thumbprinted permission for the lawyers to represent them. He claimed that only slightly more than 10 of his group could afford to travel to Phnom Penh.

At present, he explained that they do not have money, as they are all facing a financial crisis because of the bank debts they took on to invest in the company.

“Some owe the bank $50,000 or $60,000. Their salaries are only $200 or $300, but they need to pay the bank $500 or $600 per month. This makes their lives harder and harder, and the banks do not understand this,” he said, adding that some have fled, leaving their parents to take responsibility for their debts.

Most of his group are working in Thailand to earn money to pay off the banks, so they may find it hard to return to Cambodia to apply for legal representation.

However, Tech said the government lawyers will find ways to make it easier for people who are far away to apply for representation.

On May 13, Prime Minister Hun Manet authorised Tech to allow government lawyers to represent the interests of the victims, until the case is closed.

At least six people have been jailed, including the company's director general, Channa. In April, the Siem Reap provincial court ordered 183 bank accounts related to the company to be frozen.