Phnom Penh Municipal court on Thursday convicted two brothers of defrauding an Australian land investor of $94,000 in 2012. Judge Yet Molin sentenced the two brothers, Hout Chanvirak and Hout Sokvathanak, to 18 months in prison and ordered the repayment of $94,000 plus damages of $5,000 to Michael James Samuel, aged 73.
Both men are fugitives. In court documents, Mr. Samuel said that in July 2011 he formed a partnership with the brothers, who were working for a fertilizer company.
He paid them $121,000 to find 100 hectares of land in Kompong Thom province. Mr. Samuel said he wanted to develop the land to grow soybeans and plant rubber trees.
However, he said, the Hout brothers never produced land titles and eventually disappeared with the money. Judge Molin convicted the pair of breach of trust and issued warrants for their arrests.
In a petition to the court last year, Mr. Samuel asked for restitution of his investment, $94,000, and payment of $20,000 in damages.
Speaking outside the court, Mr. Samuel said: “I accept this verdict and it would be just if they arrest them and they pay me back.”