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Tycoon testifies in trust case

Tycoon testifies in trust case

111207_06
Kok An, chairman of Anco Brothers Company Ltd, speaks to the Post outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

Tycoon and ruling party senator Kok An testified yesterday against a former executive and his wife who are accused of siphoning nearly US$60 million from one of his numerous ventures, Anco Brothers Company.

“He was the person I trusted the most in the company,” the senator told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. “He transferred piles of money from the company’s account into his own and his wife’s accounts.”  

The couple, who were charged in July with breach of trust and are in pre-trial detention, did not attend the hearing. Neither did their four lawyers, three of whom submitted letters to the court saying they were too busy to attend. Presiding Judge Leang Samnak said the letters were an “attempt to delay the trial”.

Heng Chheang, former vice-president of Anco Brothers and nephew of Kok An’s wife, and his wife Tep Kolap, former rector of the Phnom Penh International University, provided no reason for their absence.

Previously, they said the court had failed to follow legal procedures and called for an external audit of the firm, which distributes British American Tobacco products, Evian water and Budweiser beer in Cambodia.

Heng Chheang was hired by the company in 1991, rising rapidly as the tycoon’s business ventures multiplied into water supply, banking, resorts and a casino, Kok An told the court.

Initially, Kok An accused the pair of stealing $34 million between 2008 and 2010. Prak Sophath, an internal auditor at the company, told the court his June audit found that Heng Chheang had transferred more than $58 million into his and his wife’s accounts at three banks between 2001 and 2010.

Kok An’s lawyer Long Dara said the couple stole a total of $58,973,265.28, and requested a heavy sentence, repayment of the stolen funds and $300,000 in compensation.

Deputy prosecutor Heang Sopheak said there was enough evidence to prove guilt. A clerk read answers the pair previously gave to a judge, in which they insisted they were innocent.

Judge Leang Samnak said he would deliver a verdict today. Lawyers for the accused could not be reached.

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