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Government seeks Ponzi extradition

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A group of investors, who fell victim to the Ponzi scheme, from Techo Akphivat village in Kampot and from Kor Kou Village in Prey Veng. Heng Chivoan

Government seeks Ponzi extradition

The government has requested the Laotian authorities to extradite one of the masterminds behind a Ponzi scheme which is estimated to have defrauded tens of thousands of Cambodians out of up to $400 million, a national police top brass said.

Dy Vichea, the National Police deputy chief and Ministry of Interior’s central security department director, said the government and its Laotian counterparts are pushing the extradition proceedings of fugitive Huot Sovann, Bayon Television reported on Monday.

“[Several] senior officials from the Interior Ministry and National police are in Laos now, trying to get [Sovann] back to Cambodia and to find justice for the victims [of the case],” said Vichea.

Sovann was involved in a fraud case committed by Empire Big Capital (EBC), Asian Investment Fund (AIF) and Investment Consultant Association (ICA).

The companies promised an attractive 10 per cent monthly interest on minimum investments of $2,000 but soon absconded with the funds, duping thousands of Cambodians.

Two lower-level arrests in connection with the case have been made, but EBC head Sean Tan, AIF’s Chi Gosaly, ICA’s Huot Sovann and their alleged associate Long Sambath have not yet been apprehended.

They are suspected to have fled the Kingdom.

Ly Sovanna, a lawyer representing the victims, told The Post on Tuesday that more than 3,600 people have filed a lawsuit in relation to the case.

However, he noted that not all victims lodged a complaint. “Maybe they weren’t informed, or feel hopeless and ashamed.”

Sovanna said the court closed its inquiry before the July 29 general elections and that the case has reached the judges.

“We want to see speedy judicial procedures, but we do not know when the judges will work on this case because it seems like a long time ago,” he said.

‘I feel hopeless’

Previously, Sovanna said each had lost at least $1,000 in the Ponzi scheme, while one plaintiff had lost a whopping $150,000.

“Because people saw they could get the money easily, they took loans from the banks and money brokers. None [escaped] being a victim,” he said.

One of the victims, Ky Panha admitted that his family and relatives had lost about $99,000 in the scheme. They are waiting for justice.

“I feel hopeless. The case happened a long time ago and I am still waiting [for justice],” the 50-year-old tuk-tuk driver said.

He said his family had sold their farm to pay off the debt to the bank.

“I ask the court to arrest the suspects. I want justice [to be served] and to get my money back,” Panha said.

Vichea and Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Post could not obtain a statement from the Laotian Embassy in Phnom Penh.

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