Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a former Finance Ministry official to 10 years in jail and ordered him to pay back more than $600,000 that he embezzled from the National Bank of Cambodia by forging checks.
“The court decided to sentence Kuy Dara to 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay back $606,000 to the Ministry of Economy and Finance,” presiding Judge Ke Sakhorn said as he read the verdict.
Judge Sakhorn said the court had decided to charge Mr Dara with embezzlement and forging public documents under articles 601 and 629 of the new criminal procedure code.
Kuy Dara, 43, then-acting bureau director within the ministry’s industry and finance department, confessed during a Dec 3 hearing to withdrawing an unspecified number of checks signed by department director Mey Vann between January 2009 and April 2010. He then increased the amount payable and cashed the checks at the National Bank.
During his confession in court, Mr Dara also admitted losing all his ill-gotten gains at the NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh.
“I took the money to go gambling at NagaWorld, and I lost,” he said.
Defense lawyer Ouk Siroeun said yesterday that he felt the decision was fair given his client’s confession. He said he was particularly pleased Mr Dara had been sentenced under the new criminal procedure code, as the new code carries a less-severe punishment than the old Untac law.
“It is suitable…. I will discuss with my client whether he will appeal,” he said.
However, he reiterated his belief that his client could not have carried out the scam without help, despite Mr Dara’s insistence that he acted alone.
Deputy Prosecutor Ek Chheng Hout and Theng Meng Y, lawyer for the ministry, both declined to comment yesterday, while Mr Dara’s former supervisor Mr Vann said he was too busy to speak to a reporter.
Cambodian citizens are forbidden from playing at gaming venues such as NagaWorld. Mr Siroeun said he had no idea how his client had been allowed to gamble in the casino.