Court Questions Cambodian, Chinese Businessmen Over Fraud

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday questioned two businessmen over allegations of fraud and using forged public documents, including claims they faked a signature from Prime Minister Hun Sen in a mining transaction, court and police officials said.

Deputy prosecutor Var Sakada said Cambodian Al Romny, 41, and Chinese national Chin Mingxin, 45, were questioned by the court Monday.

“I recommended charges of cheating and using fake public documents and I sent the case to the in­vestigating judge,” Ms. Sakada said, declining to give details of the case.

Investigating Judge Te Sam Ang said he was still questioning the two and as of last night had not yet charged them.

Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith, spokesman for the national police, confirmed that officials had investigated the case, but said he was unsure of the details.

A penal police official at the Interior Ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity since he was not permitted to speak with the press, identified the two men as Mr. Romny, the chairman of the ACICA Group of Com­panies, and his business partner, Mr. Chin who were arrested on Saturday in Phnom Penh.

Police received a complaint accusing Mr. Romny and Mr. Chin of defrauding an unnamed victim of $810,000 using forged documents in a deal worth about $6 million to sell a mining license in Mondolkiri province, he said.

“The suspects were accused of using illegal documents from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, an illegal letter from the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection, and the forged signature of Prime Minister Hun Sen to cheat the victim out of $810,000,” the official said.

The ACICA Group’s website claims that as well as mining interests, the company has numerous approved projects in Cambodia and an arm incorporated in the British Virgin Islands through Hong Kong.

Projects listed on the website—which claims that Mr. Hun Sen has signed off on all projects—include a “Water and Wastewater Privatiza­tion Concession for 70 years on BOO/BOT [build, operate, own/build, operate, transfer] for 18 Provinces in Cambodia,” a 37,570 hectare palm plantation in Koh Kong province and approval to conduct a study on a “hydro kinetic power plant project” on the Mekong River.

In September 2012, the company claimed to be launching ACICA  Automotive (Cambodia), which would produce a made-in-Cambodia car.

(Additional reporting by Simon Lewis)

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