A year after closing arguments were delivered in a fraud trial involving four businessmen—including a New York assemblyman and former U.S. diplomat—the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has set another hearing for today after further investigation.
Cambodian-American businessman Richer San, who was jailed for more than a month in 2014 over serious fraud charges before being freed on bail, is the only defendant who was present for the initial trial.
The other three defendants—Siv Sichan, a former U.S. envoy to the U.N.; William Nojay, a New York state assemblyman; and Thomas Willems, an American businessman—are being tried in absentia.
Municipal court spokesman Ly Sophanna said the case would return to trial today, but declined to explain why or comment further.
The four were charged based on a complaint from Phnom Penh dentist Eng Lykuong, who claims they conspired to defraud her of a $1 million investment in Akra Agricultural Partners, a development firm that never got off the ground.
Ms. Lykuong said on Sunday that she had been summoned to today’s hearing but was not sure what the status of the case was. She said that since the last trial, she had obtained evidence showing that Akra had deceived her with claims it was registered in the U.S.
“I have a lawyer abroad who helped me find out that the Akra company has no registration to operate in the U.S.,” she said, referring further questions to her lawyer, who could not be reached.
The defendants and their lawyers insist that Akra was a legitimate business that simply failed.
In an interview on Friday with the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, which covers Rochester, New York, Mr. Nojay accused Ms. Lykuong of corruption.
“We have found records that she [Ms. Lykuong] bribed the original judge, and he has been removed from the bench, his clerk was arrested for corruption and his personal assistant has fled into the countryside,” Mr. Nojay is quoted as saying.
Svay Tonh, who presided over the initial trial, could not be reached.
narim@cambodiadaily.com
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