While the arrest of Sung Bonna last week caused a stir in Cambodia’s business and real estate world, there hasn’t been a shortage of vocal Bonna supporters speaking out in the wake of the ordeal.
Kim Heang, president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association (CVEA), along with other association members and Bonna’s former colleagues, paid him a visit at Prey Sar prison earlier this week.
The visit was undertaken to help boost Bonna’s spirits following his arrest. Heang took the chance to defend Bonna’s character and the situation.
“Bonna is a good person,” Heang said.
“He doesn’t gamble, doesn’t drink. When this happened, I was very surprised because although his company is big, there was no money there.”
He added, “The arrest of Bonna is an internal conflict between the loaner. In business talk, it’s called ‘paying back what you owe’.”
Sung Bonna, chairman of the Bonna Realty Group, was taken into custody last Friday morning and summarily charged with issuing a cheque to wealthy businessman Keo Hun without having adequate funds to cover it.
While local media reported that the cheque was to pay back a $400,000 debt, Ly Sophanna, a spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Court, could not confirm the exact amount that Bonna was being charged for.
When questioned further on Bonna’s precarious position, Heang said that if Bonna did not have adequate funds to pay back what he owed, the respective authorities should have confiscated his property and allowed Bonna to pay back the amount in monthly installments by letting him do his business. Continuing, Heang labeled Bonna’s swift arrest as “cruel”.
Noun Rithy, CEO of Khmer Foundation Appraisal, who was previously the CEO for Bonna Realty Group, declined to comment on the matter. He said, “It’s an internal conflict between the two parties. As outsiders, we can’t say for sure.” Nonetheless, Rithy said, “Sung Bonna is a good person.”
Bonna said he is currently working with his lawyer in the hopes of being released on bail.
Sorn Somaly, Bonna’s wife, posted an image on social media of her tearing up after hearing the court’s decision to arrest him. She wrote in an accompanying caption, “I usually talk about the challenges in my business, especially my husband’s business on Facebook and other media platforms. Bonna is the most responsible person, not only for his family, colleagues, but also clients. He always shares his income to everyone. Sometimes he does not even put himself first.”
She continued that the company, Bonna Realty Group, was built from scratch.
“We struggled to pay the debts and built this company by attracting local and foreign investors in an effort to help the country. Our growth was due to our joy in our work, not about any political affiliation. We only want to see peace in this society, people having land to trade, and brokers getting enough commission to live.”
She added, “I don’t have as much money as people think I do. I only have my dignity. Even though we owe people money, we are still working hard to pay our debts. We never want anything from anyone.”
“Many people support his goodwill. Only a small group of people aren’t happy with him and they do what they can to bring him down. My silly husband still smiles even after knowing their schemes.”
Heang previously told Post Post that while Bonna’s arrest would not change day-to-day operations of Bonna Realty, the case could tarnish the company’s name.
“Business will run as normal, but it will impact the reputation of the company,” he warned.