King Norodom Sihamoni has signed a royal decree removing Cambodian-American businessman Richer San, who is embroiled in a serious fraud case, from his role as an adviser to Senate president Chea Sim, an official said Thursday.
Mr. San has acted as an adviser to Mr. Sim for almost a year.
Yim Leang, the chief of Mr. Sim’s bodyguard unit, said the king had recently signed off on a decision to end Mr. San’s tenure, but was unsure exactly when it had become official.
“It is true about the signature,” he said. “[Mr. San] has stopped working in the role permanently.”
Mr. Leang said the businessman had not been fired, but had chosen to step down due to competing work pressure.
“Sometimes, he is doing humanitarian work and he is an investor, too,” Mr. Leang said. “He resigned because he was busy with his own work.”
However, Phay Siphan, a government spokesman who is also a friend of Mr. San, said he had heard that the businessman had only temporarily stepped down from the position.
“He’s on hold,” Mr. Siphan said. “He’s no longer an adviser for the time being…until after the court action.”
Phnom Penh dentist Eng Lykuong has accused Mr. San—along with New York State Assemblyman William Nojay, former U.S. envoy to the U.N. Sichan Siv and Texan businessman Thomas Willems—of duping her into investing $1 million in their company, Akra Agricultural Partners Inc.
In response, Mr. San—who was arrested for his role in the case on September 3 and released on October 16 with the blessing of Prime Minister Hun Sen after promising not to flee the country—has filed a counter-lawsuit against Ms. Lykuong demanding $1 million in compensation for defamation and false testimony.
Mr. San made his fortune by founding the “Cambodia Town” business hub in Long Beach, California, and has lived in Phnom Penh since 2012.
(Additional reporting by Holly Robertson)