Ex-Government Official Convicted of Fraud

A former deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province who has been dogged for years by allegations of corruption was arrested on Monday and sent to prison over a recent fraud conviction, according to court officials and police.

Tou Thean Teu, who held the provincial post until 2007, was arrested on Monday morning over the February conviction, provincial serious crimes police chief Phoeun Mann Soeng said.

“We arrested him this morning at about 8:00 a.m. while he was walking to a restaurant in Kompong Svay commune,” in Serei Saophoan City, Mr. Soeng said. “Presiding Judge Mam Chanvanak sentenced him to one year in prison over charges of fraud.”

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court issued a verdict in the case on February 28 pertaining to fraud committed in Serei Saophoan City’s Kompong Svay commune in 2004, according to an arrest warrant signed by judge Chanvanak on April 20.

“Public forces are ordered to arrest the man named Tou Thean Teu, 52, and take him into custody at Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison,” the warrant says.

Judge Chanvanak said on Monday that Mr. Thean Teu had been convicted in absentia, but that he could not remember further details about his crime or who the plaintiff in the case had been.

“There are lots of cases. I can’t remember them all. But he was convicted of fraud,” he said, referring further questions to chief prosecutor Phan Vanrath.

Mr. Vanrath could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Since resigning from his official post almost a decade ago, Mr. Thean Teu has been the subject of accusations of fraudulent land dealings, the strongest of which came from former provincial governor Oung Oeun.

In a 2012 letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Mr. Oeun accused his former deputy of colluding with officials from the provincial court and forestry administration in order to fabricate a case against British entrepreneur Gregg Fryett.

Mr. Fryett has been detained without conviction for more than three years on charges of producing fake public documents and using them to buy two plots of land in Svay Chek district.

He has maintained throughout his yearslong trial that he is the victim of an elaborate scam orchestrated by Mr. Thean Teu and others.

Until Monday Mr. Thean Teu appeared to have escaped sanction for his alleged misconduct, despite the fact that an Interior Ministry investigation last year found he had forged official documents and signatures to fraudulently sell a plot of land to Mr. Fryett in 2009.

Mr. Thean Teu’s conviction was welcomed by Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, who earlier this year condemned the former deputy governor as a notorious swindler.

“Tou Thean Teu made people suffer over land issues,” he said.

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