Jailed Bank Boss Still Awaits Pardon, Release From Prison

A jailed bank director awaiting a pardon from King Norodom Sihanouk is still in prison while his paperwork is being held up at  the Ministry of Justice.

Heng Kim Y, formerly the dir­ector of Thaneakear Khmer (Khmer Bank), was convicted in October last year and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of forgery and embezzlement. The King agreed to award him a pardon June 22, following a re­quest from the two prime ministers and the Council of Ministers.

“[Heng Kim Y] has agreed to withdraw his appeal, which means the judgments of the court…are definitive according to the law,” the King’s Cabinet wrote in the letter. “As concerns the request, His Majesty the King…will allow the award of a royal pardon to Heng Kim Y.”

The letter requests the Min­istry of Justice to draw up the pardon and send it to the King for his signature.

But Minister of Justice Chem Sgnuon said Thursday he could not yet issue the decree because he was unsure whether the bank­er had accepted the court’s judgment.

“I have asked to check that the judgment in both cases are definitive,” he said. “We need to check the second case and when we have this information I can in­form the two prime ministers to tell the King.”

Typically, a prisoner who re­ceives a pardon is released within a few weeks.

“I have had enough,” the ban­ker’s wife, Heng Marie-Louise, said Thursday. “My husband has done all that is necessary. The minister only needs to get someone to go next door to the Court of Appeal and find the relevant documents. What is the problem?”

Heng Kim Y’s France-based lawyer, Francois Zimeray, who represented Second Prime Min­ister Hun Sen in a successful libel case in France earlier this year, said he was confident the two prime ministers would make sure the decree was signed soon. But he added he was concerned others were conspiring to keep his client in jail.

“I’m sure this was a political decision by Hun Sen and the King [to give the pardon] but a lot of people around Hun Sen don’t want to free him,” he said by telephone from Paris on Monday.

Chem Sgnuon denied the delay was deliberate and said he wanted to be satisfied the conditions had been met for the pardon.

Heng Kim Y was accused by the National Bank of damaging the national interest and causing inflation by disregarding the law on bank guarantees. He also faced separate charges of embezzlement from four shareholders. Despite the King’s pardon, Phnom Penh municipal court last week ordered Heng Kim Y to pay the shareholders more than $600,000 in damages.


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