Sentences in Embezzlement Case Reduced

The Court of Appeal yesterday re­duced the sentence of the former deputy director general of Anco Groups and his wife to three years imprisonment each.                                                 In December, the Phnom Penh Mu­nicipal Court sentenced the couple to four-and-a-half years each for em­bezzling nearly $60 million dollars from the firm—owned by CPP senator and businessman Kok An.

While reading the verdict, pre­siding Judge Plang Samnang said he convicted the couple on charges of breach of trust be­tween persons, allowing him to hand down a shorter prison sentence than the municipal court. The latter had sentenced the two on charges of breach of trust committed by a person heading a legal entity such as a corporation.

“The court decided to sentence Heng Chheang, 42, and Tep Kolap, 36, to three years in prison each for breach of trust…. The court ordered them pay $58.34 million and also ordered them pay $50,000 of compensation to plaintiff Kok An,” Judge Samnang said.

Mr. Chheang has denied em­bezzling any money but admitted that the firm’s accounts still showed a discrepancy of $630,000 because Mr. An’s wife, Sok Im, told him to take the money out and use it build her a house in Tuol Kok district. He said the embezzlement allegations were based on a flawed audit of Anco Groups’ records.

Judge Samnang dismissed Mr. Chheang’s defense as “just excuses.”

As the verdict was read out, a large crowd of some 200 family members, students and colleagues from Phnom Penh International Univer­sity—where Mr. Chheang was chairman and Ms. Kolap was the rector—booed and some shouted that the decision was “very unjust.”

Mr. Chheang and Ms. Kolap talked to reporters as they were escorted outside the court.

“I gave all the evidence, and they twisted my clarification. I cannot accept it,” Mr. Chheang said. “I complain to Samdech Hun Sen and Bun Rany Hun Sen and the King, please find the justice for me…. Oknha Kok An colluded with the court’s officials and please help to reinvestigate with this case.”



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