An ex-department manager for Canadia Bank was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison and ordered to return more than $1 million to his former employer, presiding Judge Buninh Bunary said.
Kim Sophea, 40, formerly head of Canadia’s Letters of Credit Department and entrusted with the transfer of clients’ deposits, was convicted of violating Untac Law 46 “Breach of Trust.”
The court earlier dropped all charges against Kim Sophea’s alleged partner, 50-year-old garment factory owner Phing Sam Reth.
The two were arrested Feb 24 when Kim Sophea was caught transferring money from Canadia to Phing Sam Reth’s account at the Foreign Trade Bank.
Kim Sophea admitted to misappropriating the interest generated by transferring $1.5-million worth of his clients’ accounts.
“They played back and forth with our clients’ money,” Canadia Vice President Phuong Khinh Hoa said in a Feb 25 interview. “We want the money back. It was money that our clients were supposed to deposit in our bank.”
According to Phuong Khinh Hoa, since 1999 Kim Sophea had been taking clients’ cash deposits and placing them in Phing Sam Reth’s private account to collect interest.
When a client would request a withdrawal, he would quickly transfer the money back to Canadia to be withdrawn.
At the time of his arrest, Kim Sophea said that he committed the crime in order to pay debts owed by his family in Canada, court clerk Hout Heng said at the time.
“[Kim Sophea] took some and [Phing] Sam Reth also got some. The charges against Sam Reth were dropped by the investigating judge,” said Buninh Bunary who added that Phing Sam Reth agreed to pay approximately $50,000 compensation to Canadia Bank.
Phuong Khinh Hoa confirmed that Phing Sam Reth had returned some money and that the remainder will be deducted from his garment factory’s account with Canadia.
Phuong Khinh Hoa said Thursday that he feels sad about Kim Sophea’s punishment.
“We are sad because we used to work together, but it must be done in accordance to the law,” he said.
Kim Sophea has been jailed at PJ Prison since his arrest.