PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard a case against two men charged with trafficking counterfeit United States currency in March after police confiscated nearly 240 fake US$20 notes from one of the suspect’s apartments during an undercover sting operation.
San Kimhouy, 69, and Heang Vanna, 31, were arrested on March 29 from an apartment in Tuol Kork district’s Toek La’ak II commune after they attempted to sell 100 of the fake notes to an undercover police officer.
Police searched San Kimhuoy’s apartment and found an additional 137 notes.
A third suspect, Heang Vanna’s girlfriend, Chem Sina, remains at large.
San Kimhuoy told the court yesterday that he purchased the notes for $2 each from a Vietnamese motorbike-taxi driver, whom he met outside a casino in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town in February.
“I bought a total of 237 notes so I could sell them to Chem Sina, who agreed to pay $6 for each note,” he said. “This is the first time I have done this, and I really didn’t know that it was fake money.”
Heang Vanna claimed to have played no part in the scheme, saying he happened to be at the apartment at the time because his girlfriend was involved.
Defence lawyer Ou Bunra asked for the minimum sentence for both of his clients.
“I have a doctor’s certificate that says San Kimhuoy has high blood pressure and will not be able to stay in prison for long because it could affect his health,” he said.
“I request a minimum sentence for Heang Vanna because he was not involved in the trafficking.”
If found guilty, the pair face between five and 15 years in prison. Presiding judge Duch Kimsorn said a verdict would be announced on September 23.
Also yesterday, the court tried a Korean man on charges of signing a US$55,000 cheque that bounced last year.
Kim Chungho was arrested in February last year following a complaint from a Korean man who accused him of signing a cheque for $55,000 when his bank account contained just $5,000.
The accused’s lawyer, Phan Phanith, said his client signed off on the cheque because he wanted to help a friend who was heavily in debt.
“He promised to transfer the whole amount to his bank account a month later,” he said.
Kim Chungo requested a minimum sentence because he signed the cheque “out of compassion”.
If found guilty, he faces a minimum of two years in prison. A verdict in that case will be announced on September 29.