General, wife charged with fraud

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Khoun Sovan, One star general (L), Trie Nat wife of one star general were arrested in Kampong Thom for defraud. Supplied

A brigadier general from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and his wife, a self-proclaimed lieutenant general at the Ministry of Interior, were sent to military court on Tuesday for deceiving others into paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for good jobs in state institutions.

Khuon Sovan, who was also deputy head of the RACF’s inspection unit, and his wife Pon Sinat have been charged with fraud after being arrested by joint security forces on Sunday, according to National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy.

Hy declined to provide further details, saying only the couple were sent to court after questioning by government representatives.

“I’ve already sent them to court. For details, you have to ask the court,” he said.

Ministry of National Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat also referred reporters to the military court when reached for comment on Wednesday.

“I’m aware of this, but I don’t have any comment on the case because it is now in the hands of the military court. You can ask the military court for more details. I cannot say more because it’s a private issue,” he said.

Prum Sornthon, chief prosecutor of the military court, told The Post on Wednesday his legal team was proceeding with the case but declined to reveal what charge the court had laid against the pair.

“I don’t want to break this to anyone now because I’m still working on it. The case will proceed in accordance with the law,” he said.

The Post could not reach any of the plaintiffs who had allegedly been deceived by Sovan and Sinat for comment.

According to a complaint jointly lodged by 21 residents from Kampong Thom province’s Baray district to the National Military Police, the couple were active in charity work in the district, having donated walkie-talkies and uniforms, among other things, to village guards.

The couple also frequently donated money to the elderly and poor villagers in Baray district. Sovan and Sinat, the complaint said, would show Baray residents their selfies with government leaders to deceive people into believing that they were a wealthy and powerful couple.

The complainants added the pair then lied to Baray residents they could secure jobs for their family members as teachers or members of the army, police or Military Police in exchange for a paperwork processing fee of $6,500 and upwards.

Having received no news of the promised jobs long after paying the couple, the villagers filed a complaint to authorities.

The National Military Police report said the couple were also involved in other fraud cases, having deceived at least 30 people into paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past eight months.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak on Wednesday denied Sinat was a lieutenant general at the ministry. He added an additional lawsuit was being prepared against her for falsifying public documents and impersonating a Ministry of Interior general.

“I’ll file an additional lawsuit against her for faking public documents and using a fake name [as a general], a charge that carries a prison sentence of between six months and six years depending on the court’s findings and ruling.

“Her name is not registered with the Ministry of Interior, either as a general or as an under-secretary of state or adviser to Minister of Interior [Sar Kheng]. So she will face an extra six months in jail for this,” he said.