The Supreme Court on Wednesday released on bail a Ministry of Civil Service official who allegedly colluded with his wife in stealing $6 million from a Canadia bank branch in January.
The order allows the accused – Chan Simuntha – to be released on bail after his lawyers had argued that he had already paid the money back.
Judge Yu Yuthara read the verdict before the accused and his two lawyers, saying he was overturning the Appeal Court decision, which had upheld the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to keep Simuntha in custody pending trial.
The judge said the decision was based on the record in the case.
Simuntha’s defence lawyers and a lawyer for the bank told the judge that the accused had already returned the $6 million to the bank.
The Supreme Court also found that the signature on the receipt was only signed by Teang Vathanaknearyroth, an employee of Canadia Bank and Simuntha’s wife, without the signature of the accused.
The judge said at the trial, the accused said he had two young children to take care of, but after his imprisonment, they had no caretakers and his children were sent to live with their grandparents.
Vathanaknearyroth is already serving prison time. Referring to this reason, the Supreme Court understood that it was not necessary to detain Simuntha for “conspiracy in a breach the trust”.
“Therefore, I release the accused and overturn the Appeal Court’s decision,” the judge said.
Defence lawyer Thuy Sokun said outside the courtroom that the Supreme Court’s order to release his client was justified.
“The court’s decision is a fair one for my client who can take care of his children. The elderly parents cannot take care of their grandchildren and said that if the court does not release my client, they will take their grandchildren to an orphanage,” he said.
According to Sokun, Simuntha was told by his wife on January 18 to go to Canadia Bank and pick up three black packages.
He went and put the packages in his car and drove home. When he arrived home he parked the car without taking the packages out, Sokun said.
Unbeknownst to Simuntha, the package contained $6 million in customers’ money. His wife then texted a message to the General Department of Taxation to ask about the amount of money required to pay the tax.
The tax department contacted Canadia Bank because they did not see the tax money and the bank investigated and discovered that the wife took the money.
Sokun said his client returned the full amount to the bank. The wife took the money originally to transfer to Khmer currency to gain some profit without any intention of stealing the bank’s money,” he said.