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Three men charged with fraud in failed land deal

Sun Sok Heng (center) leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after being questioned about fraud.
Sun Sok Heng (center) leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after being questioned about fraud. Hong Menea

Three men charged with fraud in failed land deal

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged three brokers with fraud after they allegedly failed to buy a parcel of land for an investor after taking $900,000 from her to make the purchase.

The suspects – Sok Mean, 47, Hang Sokha, 47, and Sun Sok Heng, 58 – were arrested on June 9 after a complaint by the investor, So Navy.

Local media reported that the three also allegedly impersonated environmental officials and claimed to be working for Hun Many, the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, in an effort to coerce people into selling their land, although the court did not include this in the charges.

“We received the complaint from So Navy around two months ago. We then summoned the three of them for questioning,” said a court official speaking anonymously. “But they did not come, so the prosecutor issued an arrest warrant.”

Puth Theavy, the trio’s defence lawyer, denied that they committed fraud or impersonated officials.

Nong Dinara, the chief of Preah Sihanouk province’s Keo Phos commune, where the land was supposed to be purchased, said that suspect Sok Heng was a village chief in a neighbouring district, and added that he was not aware of any fraud by the trio. “I think the problem is due to lateness in paying the sellers,” he said.

“The sellers ended contracts,” he said. “I saw many villagers end the contracts and take their land back.”

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