Jail Terms for Four in Mondolkiri Mining Fraud

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday convicted and imprisoned four people for their roles in a fraud case that involved the forging of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s signature to secure a mining license in Mondolkiri province.

Al Romny, the 41-year-old director of the local company ACICA Group, was arrested alongside his Chinese business associate Chin Mingxin, 46, nearly a year ago amid accusations that they forged the prime minister’s signature and cheated a partner out of $810,000 in the deal. Two other Cambodians were also arrested and charged with fraud and forgery. One of them, Pil Sokha, an Interior Ministry official, is on the run.

“Al Romny…is sentenced to a total of seven years; Pil Sokha, 63, is sentenced to a total of seven years —both charged with using forged public documents and fraud in Phnom Penh between 2012 and 2013,” Presiding Judge Kor Vandy told the court.

“Chin Mingxin…a Chinese national, is sentenced to a total of seven years; Ms. Soch Sothea, a 47-year-old Cambodian female, is sentenced to a total of five years,” he continued. “Both were charged with colluding to use forged public documents and fraud.”

At the time of Mr. Romny’s arrest, ACICA—which has water and wastewater projects around the country—insisted that he had been acting in a personal capacity to facilitate the deal. It also stressed that Mr. Chin was not an employee or partner of the company.

The case centered around the forgery of two key documents. One purported to have been issued by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the other was allegedly from the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection. They both bore the signature of Mr. Hun Sen and were used fraudulently to secure what would have been a $6 million mining deal.

During their sentencing, the four were also ordered to pay $350,000 in restitution fees and another $200,000 to Chinese national Chow Yun Deu, who prosecutors had alleged was cheated out of the $810,000.

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