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Jailed duo hope new audit equals acquittal

Jailed duo hope new audit equals acquittal

Tep Kolap is held by Heng Chheang while surrounded by supporters and media at the Appeal Court in March. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

The Supreme Court will begin hearing the embezzlement case of Heng Chheang and his wife, Tep Kolap, on Friday, Sept. 28, just over a month after the Ministry of Economy and Finance said that evidence in the original trials of the one-time business partners of Senator Kok An was incomplete, lawyers said yesterday.

In an August 17 letter obtained by the Post two weeks ago, the ministry’s National Accounting Council called for a “counter-audit” of court-appointed auditor Kak Key’s 2011 investigation, maintaining that Key had confirmed before the council that his audit had examined only the expenditures of the account in question, despite having “had a duty to continue auditing this until completely done with both money expenditures and incomes, in accordance with Phnom Penh Court’s investigative judge”.

Orn Hing, a defence lawyer for Chheang and Kolap, told the Post yesterday that he had already received the summons for his clients to appear Friday, and that new evidence, including the letter from NAC, may turn the tables in his clients’ favour after over a year in prison.

“My clients, Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap, were sentenced to prison by the lower courts because of the biased report,” he said.

Key’s audit, which Hing said was the basis of Chheang and Kolap’s convictions, showed more than US$58 million flowing out of an account linked to Kok An and into one belonging to Chheang and Kolap.

The report did not, however, show the more than $62 million that court documents show flowed back into the senator and tycoon’s account from Chheang and Kolap’s.

“I have very strong proof in this case,” said Long Dara, Kok An’s attorney, who declined to comment on the NAC’s letter. “I hope that the Supreme Court will ... uphold the lower courts’ decisions.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]


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