A British man under investigation for embezzling millions of dollars from investors in his homeland and laundering that money in Cambodia accused a Cambodian judge on Friday of malpractice and requested that all evidence collected under the judge be annulled.
Gregg Fryett, chairman of Sustainable Agro Energy—an international company that sold shares in a failed biofuel project in Banteay Meanchey province—presented a letter Friday to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charging that Ang Mealatey, a former Banteay Meanchey provincial court judge, failed to properly investigate the case against him.
Mr. Fryett has been incarcerated in Prey Sar prison since March 2013 on charges of forging documents in order to acquire land and illegally clearing that land in Banteay Meanchey province.
In April, Mr. Mealatey was transferred to be director of Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
“We have accused Ang Mealatey of taking an unauthorized investigation. In essence, he has not in-vestigated the land seller or Hanh Chamrong, the agent—they have not been called to trial,” Mr. Fryett said Friday.
The “land seller” is Mao Malay, wife of deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan. The “agent” is Royal Cambodian Armed Forces General Hanh Chamrong.
Presiding Judge Top Chhun Heng said Friday that he would “delay this hearing so that the judges can consider this request.”
The charges against Mr. Fryett relate to the acquisition and clearing of two plots of land totaling 6,079 hectares in Banteay Meanchey’s Svay Check district, where Mr. Fryett’s local partner—International Green Energy (IGE)—had in 2010 begun to grow jatropha, a tree whose fruit can be converted to biofuel.
No biofuel was ever produced by IGE.
In February 2012, after investors had seen no return, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office froze all assets of SAE and began an investigation into allegations that Mr. Fryett had defrauded people there for a cumulative $54 million.
Soon after, Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) began to investigate Mr. Fryett and IGE.
The ACU found that IGE never officially received the rights to the land but had negotiated a price of around $2 million to purchase it from Ms. Malay.
Gen. Chamrong has confirmed a deal was struck between the two parties and that hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands.
In January, the ACU laid fresh charges of money laundering against Mr. Fryett, on the basis that the $54 million was obtained illegally from investors and the jatropha plantation was used to clean it.
Mr. Fryett faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of all charges.
Also in January, Ouk Keo Rattanak, who served as head of Banteay Meanchey provincial administration, was arrested and sent to Prey Sar prison on allegations of forging and selling a duplicate land title to one of two plots of land owned by Ms. Malay.
In Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, Mr. Keo Rattanak, who faced the court along with Mr. Fryett and two other IGE employees accused of forging documents, claimed that he had been framed.
“I did not commit the crime as the court charges” he said.
Mr. Mealatey declined to comment on Mr. Fryett’s allegations.