Woman Gets 3 Years for Financial Dealings With CPP Lawmaker’s Kin

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a 43-year-old businesswoman to three years in prison for fraud and forgery for defaulting on a $1 million loan from a CPP lawmaker’s family, court officials said. 

The court also ordered Ing Rithea to return the $1,090,500 she had borrowed and pay $400,000 in compensation to CPP lawmaker Chea Chamroeun, his sister-in-law Chap Bonavy and their relative Hang Borey, presiding judge Kor Vandy said.

Ms Rithea borrowed money from Mr Chamroeun and his family in 2007, and then forged Ms Bonavy’s signature on a message giving her permission to represent Ms Bonavy in a meeting with finance officials, the court heard earlier this month.

The money was used to renovate six markets in Takeo, Kratie, Kampot and Kompong Chhnang provinces.

After the verdict Ms Rithea said she could not accept the court’s decision and planned to appeal. She claimed she borrowed only $450,000, and reinvested profits in other projects under an agreement with Mr Chamroeun’s family.

Ms Rithea also said she would be unable to pay the money back, as she had already transferred ownership of her properties to Mr Chamroeun. She said she had done so in part because she feared her former husband would take them in their recent divorce settlement, she said.

“I have not money to pay them because I already transferred six markets and my house costing $200,000 to them,” she said.

Ms Rithea’s lawyer, Chea Hey, said the court had treated his client unfairly, and should have considered that she has two children to look after. He added that the case should have been tried as breach of contract, not as a criminal case.

“I hope that the high court will find justice for my client,” he said.

Mr Hey said that Ms Rithea had lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Council of Magistracy after she was arrested in April.

“Mr Chamroeun’s lawyer, Tuoch Chhay, declined to discuss the case.

“I wait to discuss with my client,” he said.

Mr Chamroeun could not be reached yesterday.


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