The Siem Reap Provincial Court on Tuesday decided to detain Chea Hak Srun at the Siem Reap provincial prison for fraudulently taking money from residents of Kokchak commune’s Veal village in exchange for granting permits to build structures in the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Srun, 51, was a land broker and resident of Nokor Thom commune’s Anh Chanh village.

A warrant issued by the court said: “The Siem Reap Provincial Court charged the accused with fraud committed in the Veal village of Kokchak commune in July 2019. It is a criminal offence punishable under Articles 377 and 378 of the Criminal Code.”

Deputy provincial police chief Huot Sothy told The Post on Tuesday that after receiving a complaint from victim Leng Sambath, a resident of Kokchak’s Khvean village, Srun was brought in for questioning at the Siem Reap provincial police headquarters on Sunday.

He was charged the following day.

Sothy said the accused had confessed to the authorities that he had deceived Sambath into paying him $2,250 to process a construction permit in the Apsara area in Khvean village – an area where it is prohibited to construct new buildings.

“After questioning, the case was forwarded to court where the suspect was charged with fraud by the investigating judge and detained at the Siem Reap prison,” said Sothy.

Apsara National Authority (ANA) spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Tuesday that after seeing the receipt for more than $2,000 granted to Srun and another man named Voeung Proeung, ANA cooperated with the provincial police to search for the two men.

“Upon questioning the suspects, Srun was identified as the ringleader so the court decided to charge him with fraud. No other suspects were involved. Srun was a direct perpetrator and had no connection with any ANA officials,” clarified Kosal.

Kosal called on residents living in the Angkor Resort area to respect the law on construction, as well as exercise caution against scammers who take money in exchange for illegal construction work.

The authorities also encouraged residents to identify those who had fraudulently acquired permission to build unauthorised structures in the Angkor Archaeological Park.

All applications for a permit to repair or construct buildings in the Angkor Resort area are free of charge, added Kosal.