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Three charged with bribery in Chinese extortion scam

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The trio have been charged with bribery and interfering with law enforcement procedures. Photo supplied

Three charged with bribery in Chinese extortion scam

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor on Thursday charged three senior police officials for their role in allegedly attempting to bribe officials to secure the release of 18 Chinese nationals who had been detained over an extortion scam.

Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong told The Post on Thursday that deputy prosecutor Say Nora had charged two officials from the General Department of Identification – deputy director Soeu Sitha and Khmer Nationality Bureau head Rath Pin – and Vann Sophea, the head of the Procedural Compliance Bureau at the General Department of Immigration.

The three were charged with bribery and interfering with law enforcement procedures, while two other suspects are on the run, he said.

The three men were detained on July 18 in Kampong Speu province after allegedly trying to release 18 Chinese nationals who were being held for their alleged involvement in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) online money extortion scam.

The Chinese suspects were arrested in Kampong Speu province’s Baset district on July 17.

Provincial governor Vei Samnang said on Monday: “They thought our officials were corrupt. They offered money to release [the Chinese nationals]. We told them we could only release eight people for $40,000 and they said eight people are OK.

“Then they said that if we released twelve people, they would give us $150,000. We arrested the three and confiscated the $40,000.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Y Rin said on Thursday: “The court charged them with being accomplices in the commission of a felony or misdemeanour according to Article 29 of the Criminal Code and with unlawful arrest, detention or confinement with aggravating circumstances according to articles 253 and 254 of the Criminal Code.

“They were also charged with obstructing law enforcement with aggravating circumstances according to Article 586 of the Criminal Code, proffering a bribe according to Article 605 of the Criminal Code and abuse of power in accordance with Article 35 of the Law on Anti-corruption.”

The investigating judge detained the three men at the Police Judiciaire prison in Phnom Penh.

Separately, a municipal prosecutor charged Iem Sam Orn, 37, an officer who served in the Bodyguard Department, and Va Sok, a driver, with stealing $2 million from the Chhay Van company.

“Sam Orn was charged with being an accomplice in the commission of a felony or misdemeanour according to Article 29 of the Criminal Code, theft with aggravating violent circumstances according to Articles 353 and 357 of the Criminal Code and unauthorised holding or transporting of a weapon based on Article 490 of the Criminal Code. The suspects were sent to prison together,” Rin said.

On July 18, crime unit police from the Ministry of Interior, municipal crime unit police and Svay Rieng provincial police arrested Sok, searched his house and seized $130,000 from him.

Sam Orn was arrested in Phnom Penh the following day and $250,000 and a handgun were seized.

An accountant at Chhay Van had handed a cheque for $5 million to Sam Orn and Sok and told them to go and withdraw the money from CIMB Bank near the former Ministry of Commerce in the capital’s Daun Penh district, but they had allegedly fled with the cash.

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