The Svay Rieng Provincial Court on Wednesday charged a man with fraud for allegedly swindling more than 100 families out of some $100,000 in total by convincing them to take out loans at Acleda Bank, using their land as capital, then give the money to his fake company, officials said.
Keo Sotha, chief of the provincial police’s minor crimes bureau, said officers arrested Chet Sarin—deputy director of the Cambodian Village Development Agency in Rumduol district’s Pong Toek commune—on Tuesday. His brother, Chet Ren, was the agency’s director and remains at large, he added.
Mr. Sotha said that in 2013, the brothers began telling the villagers that if they used their land to get loans and give the money to the company, they would receive 40 percent interest after two years.
“We tried to remind them that they would have problems in the future,” Mr. Sotha said.
Police arrested Mr. Sarin after receiving complaints from 13 families on May 30, according to Mr. Sotha. The families became suspicious after a meeting with Acleda.
Mr. Sotha said that about 100 families took out loans in 2013 and received their promised interest after two years. This convinced them, and others, to take out additional loans, he explained.
Hing Bunchea, chief prosecutor at the Svay Rieng court, said he charged Mr. Sarin with fraud Wednesday.
Pong Toek commune chief Sot Dorn said he tried to tell the villagers that they were being swindled, but that his warning fell on deaf ears.
“They didn’t care because they saw the high interest and thought they wouldn’t need to work hard,” he said.
Tol Thol, vice president of Acleda’s Svay Rieng branch, said no interest had been paid on the loans since April and that all interest would have to be paid in full in order for the families to get their land titles back.
“In the contract, they promised us the money was for doing business,” he said. “Although they took it to do something else, we do not care. They need to pay all the interest to us.”