Court questions ex-soldier in $80 million fraud case

Phnom Penh: Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday finished questioning a former Defence Ministry Lieutenant General who is accused of cheating two Chinese investors out of more than $80 million in a project to construct an international-standard hospital in Kandal Province’s Takhmao City last year.

Hong Sothea, a court clerk, yesterday said that guards brought tycoon Ho Chamroeun from prison to the court for questioning by Investigation Judge Koy Sao.

He said that Judge Sao has now completed questioning the accused, who was sued by the Chinese investors and charged with fraud, and is preparing to send the case for trial.

“The investigation judge now has completed his investigation in the fraud case,” Mr Sothea said. “The judge has sent him back to prison pending his trial.”

Judge Sao could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr Chamroeun and his defence lawyer also could not also be contacted for comments.

According to court documents, Mr Chamroeun, 38, was arrested on May 17 last year over another case when he fired shots in the air during a family dispute. After his arrest, he was sacked by the ministry and stripped of his military rank.

The documents said that in 2016, Mr Chamroeun, who was then a property businessman, had invested in the construction of an international-standard hospital worth more than $200 million with the Chinese investors.

After the agreement on the construction project, the plaintiffs in 2017 sent more than $80 million to the accused for hospital construction costs. But the project never went ahead because Mr Chamroeun had been arrested.

The plaintiffs asked for their money back from the accused but he did not have any money to repay them. To claim for their losses, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against him with the court on June 5.

On October 4 last year, Mr Chamroeun was convicted by Municipal Court Judge Leang Samnath and sentenced to 18 months in prison over the shooting case.

According to Judge Samnath, he was charged with issuing death threats and firing six shots in the air during an argument with his wife and father-in-law.

The incident took place at about 3.30 pm on April 21 last year at his luxury villa in Dangkor district’s Prey Sar commune.