Police Halt $1 Million Acleda Loan Fraud Scheme

Six Acleda bank staff in Battambang were arrested on Tuesday after a complaint alleged the bank had been defrauded of over $1 million since 2014, officials said on Wednesday.

Pol Ratana, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s penal department and the lead investigator on the case, said five suspects were arrested in Battambang and sent to his department on Tuesday evening for questioning.

The branch’s manager, 36-year-old Nhoek Saran, was arrested by police in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, he added.

“The Acleda bank president filed a complaint against their officials,” Major General Ratana said. “The bank audited their staff in the Battambang city branch. It’s like a parent filing a complaint against their children.”

“Right now, they are detained at our department for questioning,” he added. “We have not yet concluded whether they committed the crime or not.”

Acleda President In Channy said he first filed a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 31 against the six officials after over $1 million went missing from the bank’s record-keeping systems.

“We found irregularities in documents that caused us to become suspicious and led us to investigate,” he said. “The complaint we filed involved forged documents to disburse 12 separate loans” between 2014 and last year, he added.

The men approved credit for a variety of borrowers, both legitimate and suspicious, according to Mr. Channy.

Although some of the loans were repaid, many were not, and the men covered the unpaid sums with forged paperwork. The discrepancies were eventually flagged by the bank’s administration, which launched an audit.

“Police are questioning them in order to find people who were involved with disbursing the credit,” the bank president said, adding that the loans ranged from $18,000 to $100,000.

“When we calculated the total, it was over $1 million,” he said.

“We filed the complaint in order to invite them for questioning over the forged documents,” Mr. Channy said. “We have not make any specific accusation against them yet.”

“We ban our staff from doing anything counter to our advice,” he added. “If they made a mistake, they must be responsible.”

Two former managers at Canadia Bank were convicted along with three accomplices in August 2014 in what is believed to be the largest ever inside job in Cambodia’s rapidly expanding banking sector.

Bank managers Yeth Sopheaktra, 30, and her boyfriend Leng Suntry, 34, were convicted of forgery and breach of trust for embezzling $2.7 million from the bank by creating fake credit cards and accounts.

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