Bank Staff Raised Account Suspicions, Court Told

Employees of Canadia Bank told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday of their thwarted efforts to draw attention to unusual transactions that were later revealed to be part of a $2.3-million embezzlement scheme masterminded by managers in the bank’s credit card department.

Yeth Sopheaktra, 30, who was a senior manager in Canadia’s credit card department, and Leng Suntry, 34, who was head of the bank’s credit card department, were arrested in March after the bank alerted police to the massive fraud. During a hearing in March, Ms. Sopheaktra said she alone was behind the embezzlement, which used fraudulent credit cards linked to fake accounts to withdraw money from ATMs.

Yeth Sopheaktra, right, who is charged with embezzling $2.3 million from Canadia Bank, arrives at her trial Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Yeth Sopheaktra, right, who is charged with embezzling $2.3 million from Canadia Bank, arrives at her trial Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Testimonies from bank employees lasted for three hours as they told the court that they had been aware of unusual credit card activity and had reported it to their superiors, who turned out to be the same people who were carrying out the alleged crime.

Heng Sarin, 31, an employee at the bank’s credit card services center, said he had been aware of the large withdrawals and alerted Mr. Suntry.

“I found that two clients, Chak Kimheng and Tep Chanthy, had been withdrawing unusual amounts of cash from ATMs. They would withdraw 10 times a day and each time they took out $2,000 or $3,000,” he said.

Mr. Sarin said he reported the activity to Mr. Suntry but was told, “It does not matter” and that these clients were “VIP clients of Ms. Sopheaktra.”

Police reports say that Ms. Sopheaktra and her co-conspirators used five credit cards to withdraw up to tens of thousands of dollars a day from ATMs across the city over a six-month period.

Chor Lyda, 21, a customer service employee, also told the court Tuesday that when she brought up the large withdrawals with Mr. Suntry, she was told the accounts in question belonged to clients of Ms. Sopheaktra.

The bank employees said Mr. Suntry and Ms. Sopheaktra both had the right to approve all documents relating to the creation of credit cards.

Ms. Sopheaktra’s mother, Chak Kimheng, and boyfriend, Sun Saonin, are also being charged as accomplices to the fraud.

The trial is scheduled to resume July 7.

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Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the masterminds of the alleged embezzlement scheme were managers in Canadia Bank’s credit department. They were managers in the bank’s credit card department.

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