After 106 court appearances over the course of more than two years, a judge is finally set to hand down a verdict today against six defendants involved with a failed biofuel venture headed by British entrepreneur Gregg Fryett.
Mr. Fryett was arrested in 2013 along with his Cambodian-American associates Um Sam Ang and Soeun Denny, and Cambodian Ouk Keo Ratanak.
British businessman Gregg Fryett climbs into the back of a truck to return to prison after appearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on December 13. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)In 2012, the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office concluded that Mr. Fryett, then the chairman of U.K.-based Sustainable Growth Group, had a “criminal lifestyle,” apparently setting into motion an investigation into Cambodian subsidiary International Green Energy, which had its equipment seized and project in Banteay Meanchey province halted.
The probe resulted in charges of creating false documents, illegally clearing land and defrauding farmers. It was led by Ang Mealaktei, who brought the case with him when he moved from Banteay Meanchey to become director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, before being convicted in a separate case for gifting his son an SUV seized from a drug dealer.
Mr. Fryett has been a fiery defendant in weekly hearings, often ranting at judges and prosecutors who he says conspired to fabricate the case in order to cover their tracks after illegally seizing his company’s equipment.
He accuses Mr. Mealaktei of masterminding the legal assault on his company and says it should be thrown out now that the former judge is a convicted criminal.
“By law, his investigation is void under Cambodian law. Thus his investigation upon which the prosecutor and courts relied fails to be lawful,” Mr Fryett said in an email to U.K. officials and parliamentarians on the final day of trial hearings earlier this month.
At the center of the case are land deals involving Mao Malay, who is married to a former army commander and was never called to testify in the case—a fact that Mr. Fryett has pointed out whenever he has had the opportunity.
The broker of the deal, military General Hanh Chamrong, is among the defendants, but has remained free during the trial.
kohlbacher@cambodiadaily.com
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