Raid on Official’s House Ends Long-Distance Phone Scam

The municipal court is investigating an illegal international telephone company broken up Tues­day in a house owned by a top Koh Kong province official, officials said.

Officials from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, municipal court and local police seized an antenna and several other telecommunications equipment from a three-floor villa in Tuol Kok district on Tuesday.

The house was apparently the center of an illegal system which routed international calls through Cambodia’s only international gateway during most of 1998.

Koy Kim Sea, undersecretary of state for the ministry, estimated the government lost about $500,000 in revenues because of the unlicensed company. A mun­icipal court official upped the amount to several million dollars.

The company used the ministry’s phone lines up until a few months ago when officials located the lines and cut them, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun said Thursday.

“We asked the company to stop, but they moved from his old house,” So Khun said.

The unlicensed company started up again about two months ago using more than 30 lines from the Thai-owned Shinawatra company, So Khun said.

Shinawatra Deputy General Manager Adisai Soonthornra­pan­arak on Thursday said his company conducted no illegal activities in Cambodia, but did not deny the company’s lines were used in the scam. “Maybe what those people do, they subscribe to our telephones and they use the lines to do such a thing,” he said.

The house was owned by Koh Kong’s Third Deputy Governor Van Kiri Rath, ministry officials said. The Koh Kong official could not be reached Thursday.

Koh Kong’s Governor Rong Plamkesan said he had not seen Van Kiri Rath in a long time.

A municipal court official said a cache of weapons including cases of bullets, grenades and landmines was found in the house.

“This was not a normal office,” Chin Chiva, Phnom Penh court’s deputy prosecutor said.

 

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