The Kampot provincial police have sent Chea Saron, who holds the honorific Oknha, and his eight accomplices to court for “fraudulent” land sales totalling nearly $40 million.
Police arrested Saran and his men on April 22 after more than 2,000 families filed complaints against his realty firm.
Provincial police chief Mao Chanmthurith told The Post on April 26 that following interrogation, the nine suspects were sent to court.
“I call on our people who have been cheated to stay calm and not panic. Please trust the provincial governor and legal enforcement entities, the prosecutor and provincial court president, to find justice for you over this 'investment' that has earned you nothing but tears," he said.
Provincial court administration director Man Boreth told The Post on April 26 that the investigating judge had not yet made a decision on what charges, if any, the accused would face.
“The judge is continuing proceedings. We have not yet reached a decision on charges,” he said.
According to Article 377 of the Criminal Code, fraud is the act of defrauding any individual person or legal entity by using a fraudulent name, claiming a false status, or using malicious tactics to the detriment of any person or a third party.
The crime is punishable by imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine of up to 6 million riel (around $,1500) under Article 378 of the Criminal Code.
Saron and his eight accomplices were arrested after 2,461 families from different provinces complained to Kampot provincial governor Mao Thonin, claiming that they had been cheated after investing with Chea Saron Realty Group.
The arrest followed a public forum held regularly by the governor to find solutions for Kampot residents outside of the court system.
Thonin announced at the forum that the company must accept the debt that was owed to the victims, many of whom had borrowed money to invest in his firm.
He told Saron to use his own land holdings to replace the property of those who had used their own as collateral for loans used to invest in his business.
“Those who invested their own money in the Chea Saron Group, please give us one month to ascertain precisely what assets the group has and how much of its debt we can settle,” he said.
Thonin also suggested that victims who have paid for property but not yet received titles should approach the company and ask that they be issued immediately.
“The provincial administration’s lawyers will represent the victims, and the costs will be borne by the company,” he said.
The governor could not be reached for further comment on April 26.