Three Charged for $2.3 Million Embezzlement From Banks

The former manager of Canadia Bank’s credit section, along with two accomplices at the bank, were charged Thursday with theft and forgery for allegedly embezzling about $2.3 million from ABA and SBC banks, according to municipal court and police officials.

“The deputy [municipal court] prosecutor has charged them with theft and forged documents after questioning. We have charged them and sent them to prison for pretrial detention,” said municipal court investigating Judge Suos Sam Ath.

However, Babu Ram Gyawali, chief financial officer of ABA Bank, denied that any money had been stolen from the accounts of ABA clients.

“This is wrong information. From ABA Bank, we have not lost any money,” he said.

Canadia Bank CEO Michael Lor declined to comment on the case.

Officials with SBC Bank could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Yeth Sopheaktra, 30, who was a manager in Canadia Bank’s credit section until March, was charged with theft and forgery of documents along with her boyfriend, Sun Saonin, 33, and another man named Leng Suntry.

Police reports on the case state that Mr. Saonin and Mr. Suntry were also previously employed by Canadia Bank and said that Mr. Saonin was directly involved in the crimes.

Phnom Penh police chief Chuon Sovan declined to elaborate yesterday on how the money was stolen, who the accountholders at ABA and SBC were or how Ms. Sopheaktra was able to withdraw $2.3 million between March and August without being detected by bank officials or the police.

According to police reports, which name Canadia Bank em­ployee Chuong Ing Heng as the complainant in the case, Ms. Sopheaktra fell under suspicion of security officials at the bank after they noticed that she had amassed a small fortune since leaving her position.

On Monday, Canadia Bank officials met with Ms. Sopheaktra, who confessed to using fraudulent documents to withdraw sums of between $10,000 and $50,000 per week from the banks over five months using what the report says were five cloned credit cards. Po­lice arrested Ms. Sopheaktra and Mr. Saonin at the Canadia Bank building on Monivong Boulevard later that day.

Stephen Higgins, former CEO of ANZ Royal Bank, said that $2.3 million was a remarkably high sum to be stolen in Cambodia’s relatively small banking market, adding that it was highly unlikely that the entirety of the ill-gotten money could have come from only five bank accounts.

“Once you’ve cloned a debit card, you can withdraw for as long as you want until the account holder notices the money has gone from their account,” he said in an email, adding that he doubted that credit cards were used in the scheme, as fraudulent credit transactions would quickly be detected by banks.

“It is almost certain though that eventually account holders do notice, so it’s very, very hard to believe that anyone could get $2.3 million from just 5 accounts,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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