Trio Charged With Forgery; Suspected of Laundering

Three Congolese men were charged with forgery in Phnom Penh on Friday after creating fake passports and attempting to use them to open bank accounts for mon­ey laundering purposes, ac­cording to court and police officials.

Emmanuel Ngoma Ngoma Co­co was arrested on Wednesday af­­ternoon after unsuccessfully at­tempting to open one such account at a Sathapana Bank branch in the city, said Y Sok Khy, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism department.

“We arrested Mr. Coco because he went alone with three passports for different nationalities…French, Chilean and Portuguese. That’s the reason the bank thought there was an irregularity,” he said.

Under questioning at the anti-terrorism department later, Mr. Co­co told investigators that his friends Junior Bin Mungomba and Me­siya Tedike Junior had made the fake passports in Phnom Penh, Lieu­tenant General Sok Khy said, adding that the two Juniors were arrested on Thursday.

All three men are in their 30s and 40s, he said, and for the last month had been attempting to open multiple bank accounts with passports bearing the same fake name and photograph—likely with the aim of funneling dirty money into the country.

“They tried to do this with many banks, but only Sathapana reported it when they discovered through their system that the documents were fake,” he said.

A bank official at Sathapana’s head office, who declined to give his name, said Mr. Coco tried to use the fake passports at several branches in recent weeks.

“We were suspicious of him be­cause our system, which checks names and passport numbers, said they were not real, so we reported it to the Interior Ministry,” he said.  “Three passports with the same face, but all the information is different. How could we open a bank ac­count for him?”

The suspects were charged with forgery at the Phnom Penh Mu­ni­cipal Court on Friday, then sent to Prey Sar prison to await trial, ac­cor­ding to court spokesman Ly So­phan­na, who declined to com­ment further.

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