Kosovo national jailed two years over fraud

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a Kosovo national to two years in jail for cheating the wife of the Minister Attached to the Prime Minister in a joint venture to build resorts in Kep and Kampot provinces between 2016 and 2017.

The court also sentenced in absentia two Thai accomplices, who are at large, to two years in jail and issued warrants for their arrests.

Judge Ros Piseth identified the Kosovo national as Cokovic Denis, 56, a real estate investor, and the two Thais as Sompong Sakul Tha, 44, and Siriluck Choochart, 21.

He said that they were sued by Khim Rany, general director of Southeast Asia Television, and the wife of Kao Kim Hourn, the Minister Attached Prime Minister Hun Sen..

“The court decided to convict and sentenced the accused Cokovic Denis to two years in jail under the allegation of fraud,” Judge Piseth said. “The court also convicted Mr Sakul Tha and Ms Choochart and sentenced them in absentia to two years each in jail.”

“The court also ordered the three of them to jointly pay $360,000 in damages and another 10 million riel (about $2,500) in compensation to the plaintiff Ms Rany,” he added.

Judge Piseth noted that in 2016, the accused, who was a real estate investor living in Cambodia, persuaded Ms Rany and Mr Kim Hourn to invest in a joint-venture project to build resorts in Kep and Kampot provinces.

Top Chhunlong, deputy prosecutor, said that according to a military police report, in 2016 the three accused persuaded Ms Rany and her husband Mr Kim Hourn to invest a project in Kep and Kampot provinces.

He said that to produce the master plan, Mr Denis borrowed money in stages from Ms Rany.

Mr Chhunlong said that in 2017 when the master plan was still not ready, Ms Rany demanded her money back and that between April and June the accused issued four post-dated cheques for her to cash and recover her money in June.

“But when the plaintiff went to cash the cheques at his bank, there was no money in his account,” he said.

Mr Chhunlong noted that to claim for moneys lost, Ms Rany filed a lawsuit against Mr Denis to military police for intervention in October 2017. Mr Denis was later arrested on October 23.

After his arrest, police seized $458,336, his passport and other related documents from him.

Mr Denis told reporters outside the courtroom yesterday that the judgement was not just because he did not commit any wrongdoing as alleged. He said that he will appeal the conviction at a higher court.

“It is very unjust. I am not in the wrong. I respect Cambodian laws and trust the Cambodian law system,” Mr Denis said. “But the court has convicted me and sentenced me to two years in jail.”