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Hefty fines, no jail time for miners

Hefty fines, no jail time for miners

A Kampong Thom court has issued more than $174,000 in fines to eight individuals as part of a verdict in a 2015 case of illegal copper mining and transport filed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, though all suspects escaped prison time.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy in a Wednesday statement said in 2015 it was discovered that Cao Yun De, director of Meng Xing Hong Fa (Cambodia) Co Ltd, and six other individuals had been mining illegally in Siem Reap’s Chi Kraeng district. From there, Deng Gou Dong, director of Khmer Yunding Resources Development Co Ltd, was transporting the minerals, totalling 42 tonnes, to Phnom Penh, when they were intercepted by military police in Kampong Thom.

The verdict was handed down last month, the ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Meng Saktheara declined to comment on the court proceedings, but confirmed that the ministry issued a licence to Meng Xing Hong Fa in 2012, though it was suspended in 2014 due to noncompliance. “The company was operating the mining during the suspension period,” he said.

Under the law, illegal mining is punishable with a fine of 1 million to 10 million riel per day, as well as between one and five years in prison. Yun De was issued a 1 million riel fine per day from October 28, 2014, to September 5, 2015 more than $77,000 – and no prison time.

Gou Dong and six of his employees were issued a combined $97,707 fine for illegal transport of minerals without paying taxes, but a one-month prison term was suspended.

A court administrator said “the court had followed the procedures and the law” on the verdict, while a Meng Xing Hong Fa rep said the firm would “respect” the decision.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

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