The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced local tycoon Sok Rathorn to a year in prison for defrauding the daughter of one of Cambodia’s most senior military officials of $2.5 million through a phony property deal.
The tycoon’s wife, on trial alongside him, however, walked free after the charges against her were dropped.
Mr. Rathorn, 41, chairman of the Ranimex International Import Export company, has been in provisional detention at the minimum-security PJ Prison since he and his wife, Phann Davy, 34, were charged with fraud in June 2014, though his wife was released on bail at the time.
The plaintiff, 35-year-old Meas Sopheary, the daughter of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Deputy Commander-in-Chief Meas Sophea, accused the couple of pocketing the $2.5 million she paid for a villa and plot of land behind the Royal Palace, as well as $51,000 in tax.
On Wednesday, Presiding Judge Veng Hourt sentenced Mr. Rathorn to 12 months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of two million riel (about $500) and $100,000 in damages to the plaintiff.
He would not explain why the charges against Ms. Davy, who works with her husband, were suddenly dropped.
“There are many reasons, but I dare not make any comments. Please check the documents,” he said, referring to the court transcripts, which were not made available to reporters.
The lawyer for the defendants, Hong Chansokha, declined to comment on the verdict.
Ms. Sopheary’s lawyer, Hak Seakly, said his client was considering filing a civil lawsuit after receiving just $100,000 of the $2.5 million she lost to the couple’s swindle.
Mr. Seakly also had no explanation for Ms. Davy’s exoneration. “As I understand it, [the court] should not have dropped the charges against her because they worked as a couple…and shared [the money] with each other,” he said.
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