The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday charged two suspects with fraud after they allegedly posed as relatives of a senior Senate official to extort tens of thousands of dollars from some 100 victims in exchange for processing documents to allow them to enter the military framework.
A Phnom Penh municipal Military Police report said the first suspect – 57-year-old Bin Lach, also known as Ven Sarath – was arrested last Friday at Nan Jing restaurant in Mittapheap commune in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district.
The other man charged – Top Kim Hong, 46, who also used the names Yim Chhun Hong and Yim Kim Hong – was arrested on Monday morning opposite Proek Thmey La Ngeat Sros restaurant on the corner of Streets 115 and 274 in Boeung Prolit commune in the capital’s Prampi Makara district.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong told The Post on Wednesday: “Our prosecutor’s representative charged them with fraud. The investigating judge decided to detain them.”
A Phnom Penh municipal Military Police report said Top Kim Hong had confessed that he changed his name to Yim Kim Hong to lie to the victims that he was the cousin of Yim Leang, the deputy director-general of the cabinet of Senate president Say Chhum.
The police said Kim Hong falsely told the victims that Yim Leang would soon be transferred to the General Department of Engineering, where he would create six new departments and need to recruit 300 personnel who would be entered into the military framework.
“They cheated a total of 100 victims out of money and none of the victims was entered into the framework.
“One of the victims became suspicious and filed a complaint to the Phnom Penh municipal Military Police, which led to their arrest,” the report said.
The report outlined the fees charged by the suspects to process the documents and enter people into the military framework.
It said for the rank of for major to colonel, $5,500 to $6,000 was asked. To become a captain, the fee was $4,500 to $5,000, for first lieutenant it was $3,500 to $4,000, second lieutenant was $2,000 to $2,500 and an aspiring sergeant was charged $700 to $1000.
Yim Leang could not be reached for comment, but Senate spokesman Mam Bun Neang told The Post on Wednesday that it was an individual matter and the Senate was not involved.
He said the suspects used the Senate official’s name to commit fraud, so the authorities had taken strict action and not allowed them to walk free.
“The victims accused him [Leang], but the authorities will investigate and no, it’s not true, those people stole his name. In fact, Excellency [Leang] never committed such an act.
“I dare to guarantee that he is genuine. He did not do anything wrong to affect the Senate. He didn’t know.
“If he knew, he will have to go to answer to the authorities. I assure you that His Excellency Yim Leang never committed such an act,” Bun Neang said.
Transparency International Cambodia executive director Preap Kol said this was an obvious case of fraud but people still fell for the trick because it is common practice for some officials to ask for bribes in exchange for positions in government.
“So the people can’t tell the difference – whether it is a lie or normal practice. It would be good if people reported whenever they saw or heard of such activity, then the authorities could arrest the corrupt officials,” he said.