Businessmen Charged Over Mining Deal Fraud

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has charged the Cambodian chairman of a local conglomerate and a Chinese business associate with fraud and using forged public documents, officials said Wednesday.

Al Romny, 41, and Chinese national Chin Mongxin, 45, were arrested Saturday after an un­known complainant said they used forged documents, including faking Prime Minister Hun Sen’s signature, to cheat $810,000 out of a partner in a deal for a mining license in Mondolkiri province.

ACICA Group, the company of which Mr. Romny is the chairman, on Wednesday attempted to distance itself from the case, saying he had been acting in a personal capacity in the mining deal.

Municipal court Judge Te Sam Ang said he had concluded questioning the two on Tuesday night.

“I charged them with fraud and using forged public documents and sent them to prison for pretrial detention,” Judge Sam Ang said.

It is alleged the two used forged documents purporting to be from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection and the prime minister himself in their fraud to secure a mining deal that would have been worth $6 million.

ACICA Group boasts a number of other projects, including a government-approved water and wastewater privatization deal covering 18 provinces.

In response to questions sent to the company’s email address, an administrator said in a statement that it could not comment on the specifics of the case, but insisted that all its projects had genuine approval.

The statement stressed that Mr. Chin is not an employee or partner of ACICA Group.

“We only know him briefly as an acquaintance to our Chairman,” the response, sent Wednesday, says.

“[T]he Mining License in Mondulkiri project for the recipient Company was an independent work by our Chairman alone and has nothing to do with any other Directors, Shareholders or the Company as a whole. The Company is aware that our Chairman is assisting the recipient Com­pany to obtain the mining license under his personal capacity but are unaware of it’s work progress or development, until news of his arrest….

“[W]e are also in the dark about any details on alleged fraud or money swindle or fake approval documents for the Mondolkiri Mining License as claimed. We hope to know the truth soon about this case as much as the press and public does.”

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