Man Given 3 Years in Securities Fraud Case

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted a Cambodian-Australian of illegally making a public offering of securities, sentencing him to three years in prison of which all but four months were suspended.

The defendant Khit Udomvithourith, 43, director of Vistacard Cambodia Trading Post Company, a publishing firm in Phnom Penh, was arrested on March 28 and has been in pretrial detention since March 30.

“The court decided to sentence Khit Udomvithourith, 43, to a three-year sentence but imposes only four months and fines him 2 million riel [$500] for illegally making a public offering of securities,” Judge Chea Sok Heang said in court.

Mr Udomvithourith declined to speak to a reporter after the verdict.

Deputy prosecutor Kry Sok Y said the defendant will be released today with time served.

He said the sentence is appropriate as Mr Udomvithourith sold only one share illegally before he was arrested.

“I think the sentencing is suitable,” he said.

The stock market is tentatively slated to open in a year, though its launch date has been frequently delayed.

Officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia, which lodged the complaint against Mr Udomvithourith, testified in court that the defendant made a public offering for his company through an advertisement that appeared in the newspaper Koh Santepheap Daily.

Under the securities law adopted in 2007, selling the securities that have not been issued by a company registered in Cambodia, that in effect do not exist, is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $2,500.

Two SECC employees testified Monday that they attended a meeting held by the defendant and that one purchased a share from him.

The defendant’s lawyer Cheng Penghap said that he was not sure whether his client will appeal the decision.

“I cannot comment because it is a decision of the judge,” he said. “My client will leave from the PJ prison on Friday.”

In Pyo-lee, project director of the Korea Exchange, which holds a 45 percent stake in the Cambodia Stock Exchange, said he thought it likely more cases of illegal offering will crop up and that prosecution them is important.

“It definitely gives a warning to the people who try to sell the stock that doesn’t exist,” he said.

            (Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)


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