Court Releases Man Accused of Embezzling

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has released a man who was ar­rest­ed in February, accused of help­ing his friend embezzle $1.5 mil­lion from Canadia Bank, a judge said Sunday.

Pheung Samreth, manager of the Planet Textile garment factory, was released from PJ Prison on March 21 and all charges against him were dropped, after he prom­ised to pay $300,000 back to the bank, Judge Kim So­phoan said.

“He did not know the money was stolen,” the judge said. He said that Kim Sophea, former head of the letters of credit de­part­ment at Canadia, paid Pheung Sam­reth for garments using mo­ney allegedly taken from the bank and that Pheung Samreth had no know­ledge that the money was stolen.

Police arrested the two men on Feb 19 after Canadia Bank filed a com­plaint. Kim Sophea was charged under article 46 of the Un­tac law, pertaining to “breach of trust,” and Pheung Samreth for abet­ting an illegal act.

Kim Sophea remains in prison, the judge said.

At the time of the arrest, Phuong Khinh Hoa, Canadia Bank’s vice president said that Kim Sophea had confessed to using his friend’s account to earn in­terest on Cana­dia Bank clients’ money.

But according to Pheung Sam­reth’s lawyer, Kao Soupha, his cli­ent was not involved in the al­leged scheme and had merely ac­cepted the $300,000 as payment for garments he sold to Kim So­phea’s brother in Canada. “We will claim the money from [the] bro­ther in Canada,” the lawyer said Sunday.

Phuong Khinh Hoa said Sun­day that the decision to release Pheung Samreth was “the decision of the police” and he did not want to comment on the case as it was ongoing. In February, the bank’s vice president said Kim So­phea had been able to take the funds be­cause clients handed him cash personally rather than go­ing through proper procedures.

“The bank did not reject [Pheung Samreth’s] release com­pen­sation,” Judge Kim Sophoan said Sunday. He added that the court does not know what Kim So­phea did with the rest of the money reported stolen.

Calls to Planet Textile were not successful Sunday.

The factory employs 96 garment workers, and it was unclear whether it would be affected by the $300,000 repayment to Cana­dia Bank.

(Addi­tional reporting by Erik Wasson)



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