Buth Reaksmey Kongkea
Suspects in the high-profile corruption scandal that has rocked Senate president Chea Sim’s office were questioned in Phnom Penh Municipal Court for a second time yesterday over allegations they repeatedly engineered scams involving hundreds of millions of dollars.
Five of Chea Sim’s former staffers were arrested last month on allegations they had used their close connections with the high-ranking ruling party senator to defraud at least 51 companies from across the region on phony humanitarian and infrastructure projects.
Chea Sim’s former protocol chief, Pheng Kunthea Borey, and former advisors Chan Kosal and Pornlok Ho were questioned by presiding judge Chaing Sinath yesterday about documents that were seized from their properties, deputy prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth said.
“They were asked direct questions related to their accusations. They were also asked to testify about their companies and the documents or materials seized from their houses,” he said
Adorned in standard business clothes outside of court instead of the prison garb he has been forced to wear since his arrest, Chan Kosal said Chaing Sinath focused on his company Koy Sambath Cambodia, which he said had completed all projects it was commissioned to develop.
“I have devoted myself and works for Samdech Chea Sim’s humanitarian projects in order to make benefits for the whole Cambodian children. I had never received any cent of money from Samdech Chea Sim’s projects,” he said.
He claimed to not have received any recompense for a completed US$200,000 road connecting Svay Rieng town to Romeas Haek District in Svay Rieng province that he had paid for and constructed through his company.
On the website of a Malaysian company called Fasfik linked to the scam, Koy Sambath Cambodia is listed as the firm that had awarded them a contract to build a road and develop a township in Mondulkiri.
Chan Kosal’s lawyer Tep Mony Cheat denied his client’s firm had any association to Fasfik yesterday but conceded it did have above board dealings the Malaysian owned C4C fund.
Ponlork Ho alleged police had raided his house without informing his defence lawyer and claimed items seized did not belong to him.
“I absolutely deny this luggage belonged to me…there was no such luggage or documents in my house,” he said.
Suy Chhun Hak , the lawyer of the woman alleged to have been the ring leader of the scam - Pheng Kunthea Boery – professed her client’s innocence and said he would lodge a request for bail.
A former member of Chea Sim’s cabinet charged in connection with the scam, Khieu Bora, was not required at court yesterday because investigations into him had already been concluded, an anonymous court official said yesterday.