Dentist Denies Defaming Government Spokesman

Phnom Penh dentist Eng Lykuong, who alleges she was defrauded of $1 million by a Cambodia-based company, on Monday rejected government spokesman Phay Siphan’s accusation that she had attacked his reputation by revealing that he had acted on behalf of one of the defendants in the case, jailed Cambodian-American businessman Richer San.

Mr. San and Sichan Siv, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., stand accused alongside New York State Assemblyman William Nojay and Texan businessman Thomas Willems of conning Ms. Lykuong into investing in their company, Akra Agricultural Partners, by showcasing a number of phony business deals.

Mr. San was jailed pending trial on September 3 after ignoring a court summons to answer questions about the case. But prior to Mr. San’s arrest, Ms. Lykuong told the media that Mr. Siphan, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, had approached the court on his behalf.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Friday, Mr. Siphan said Ms. Lykuong’s comments were tantamount to defamation.

“The plaintiff has attacked my reputation and my honor, and I am not happy, because we must all be careful to respect people’s reputation and dignity,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr. Siphan also told RFA that he had not benefited financially from his involvement in the case, and had approached the court in his capacity as Mr. San’s friend, and not as a government representative.

Mr. San founded the business hub Cambodia Town in Long Beach, California, but has lived in Phnom Penh since 2012. Mr. Siphan was himself part of the Cambodian-American business community in California as the owner of a doughnut shop prior to launching his political career in Cambodia in the 1990s.

Ms. Lykuong said Monday that she had ample evidence to prove that Mr. Siphan had interfered in the case to the benefit of Mr. San, but that she did not intend to disclose the information.

“This information is purely to serve as my shield in case Mr. Siphan is planning to initiate a lawsuit against me,” she said by email.

Mr. Siphan could not be reached Monday.

Ms. Lykuong’s lawyer, Orn Hing, said he has had no contact with the legal representatives of the other three defendants, who are outside the country, since Mr. San was sent to pretrial detention at Phnom Penh’s minimum-security PJ prison on September 3.

In an interview with the Rochester, New York-based Democrat and Chronicle newspaper earlier this month, Mr. Nojay said he had not received a court summons and knew nothing about the allegations against him, saying they likely related to Mr. San alone.

“I think it’s a dispute about this woman who I’ve never met (Lykuong) and Richer, which is why he’s dealing with this thing,” Mr. Nojay is quoted as saying.

But according to Mr. Hing, the New York assemblyman is being represented in the case by Cambodian attorney Kong Rady.

“Kong Rady is the lawyer for William Nojay and Thomas Willems, while Ing Kereya is the lawyer for Richer San and Sichan Siv,” he said.

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