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PM Hun Manet Intervenes on Behalf of Ponzi Scheme Victims

PHNOM PENH – In a decisive move, Prime Minister Hun Manet has mandated Ky Tech, the head of the government's legal team, to advocate for individuals defrauded by property developer Leng Channa. Leng Channa, the proprietor of Brilliant City World, was detained earlier in March on charges of money laundering.

As he prepared for his departure to South Korea on May 15, Prime Minister Manet emphasized his commitment to the victims. "I decided to entrust Ky Tech to protect and represent the citizens in any cases being handled by the prosecution and the judiciary," he stated, also ordering a comprehensive investigation into the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by the accused.

This intervention follows the Siem Reap Provincial Court's decision on April 17, which saw five defendants remanded in custody and the freezing of 183 bank accounts and assets tied to Leng Channa's operations. Charged on March 13 with fraud with aggravating circumstances, issuing dud cheques, and money laundering, Leng and her associates were apprehended on March 12. The court also ordered twenty-four additional individuals to present themselves between April 18 and May 17.

"We will continue to work together to find appropriate solutions for the people following the legal procedures in force," added Hun Manet, indicating ongoing efforts to address the fallout from the scam.

An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 individuals allege they were lured into investing with Brilliant City World, promised monthly interest payments. However, the company ceased these payments, blaming the global economic downturn. Following these developments, Leng Channa's prestigious oknha title, typically awarded to donors of at least $500,000 to the government, was revoked.

In February, Leng falsely claimed affiliations with Prime Minister Hun Manet, leading to public confusion. The Government Spokesperson Unit quickly refuted these claims, asserting no ties between the PM and the troubled firm. Leng Channa later issued a public apology.

Under Cambodian law, fraud can lead to imprisonment of six months to three years and a fine between 1 million to 6 million riel. Aggravated fraud carries sterner penalties, including two to five years of incarceration. The Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing Terrorism stipulates that money laundering is punishable by two to five years in prison and a fine ranging from 100 million to 500 million riel, with legal entities facing fines from 200 million to a billion riel.

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