Woman in Land Deal Arrested for Fake Check

A businesswoman and wife of a military general who was arrested as she entered a fruit shop in Phnom Penh on Saturday was released on bail in Kompong Thom province on Sunday after paying a $50,000 guarantee, officials said.

Men Sophoan, 35, was the target of a complaint by hundreds of families in Kompong Thom’s Baray district who claim that she failed to pay them for about 2,000 hectares of land that she agreed to purchase in 2014, according to Chea Poeun, chief of the provincial serious crimes police bureau.

He said Saturday’s arrest was based on a complaint filed by representatives of the families over a $50,000 fake check issued by Ms. Sophoan, who paid about 10 percent of a promised payment of some $300,000 for the land before ceasing to contact the families.

“We saw the woman enter the fruit shop at about 4:30 p.m. and we read the court warrant to the woman. Then we brought her to Kompong Thom province the same day,” he said.

“We arrested the woman because she issued a fake check to the two plaintiffs,” he said, adding that Ms. Sophoan was the wife of Sao Vanny, a brigadier general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Brigade 70.

Mr. Poeun named the plaintiffs as Ouk Von and Touch Phanit, representatives of the aggrieved families.

“The woman bought the land from the villagers and she issued the check valued at $50,000 to the two plaintiffs, but when they took the check to get money from the bank, the bankers told them the check had no money,” he said.

Mr. Von and Mr. Phanit could not be reached.

However, Phou Seng, chief of Baray commune, said the pair was acting on behalf of both the families and the Im Bunthan company, which now controls the land since the deal Ms. Sophoan tried to broker fell through.

“The company is now occupying all the land because Men Sophoan has not yet paid this company,” Mr. Seng said, adding that the company had previously given the families a down payment on the land.

“If the villagers want to get the land back, they have to return the deposited money to the Im Bunthan company,” he said.

Heng Chanborin, an investigating judge at the provincial court, said Ms. Sophoan was released Sunday pending trial, and had been temporarily banned from traveling outside the country.

“I released this woman on bail this afternoon, but we required her to deposit $50,000 for bail,” he said.

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