Case of fraud involved one Cambodian leader’s help

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Case of fraud involved one Cambodian leader’s help

A middle-aged businessman was arrested and charged with defrauding the head of a local CCTV manufacturing company out of approximately 3.5 billion won ($3 million) by allegedly promising to help him secure a lucrative contract in the Philippines, Incheon prosecutors said.

The suspect, a 53-year-old man only identified by his surname, Choi, was detained, while his accomplice, a 45-year-old surnamed Yang, has been added to Interpol’s most wanted list after fleeing to Cambodia.

Authorities said Sunday that the former deputy prime minister of Cambodia was also involved, helping the suspects gain the trust of their victims. Incheon prosecutors did not say whether the politician was financially rewarded by the pair. The case dates back to January 2013, when Choi, the head of a trade investment company, met 55-year-old Jeon and suggested he invest in a business in the Philippines, saying he would help him win a contract that would install 5,000 CCTV cameras there.

After Choi claimed that they would have to bribe Filipino civil servants because the contract had been privately signed, the victim handed over a total of 3.5 billion won over the course of 18 transactions. Choi then opened a bank account in Cambodia under an acquaintance’s name where he stashed the money.

At one point, when Jeon questioned Choi’s integrity, Choi introduced him to the Cambodian deputy prime minister over a meeting that lasted for an hour, saying Cambodia holds strong leverage over the Philippines as partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Jeon later took the case to prosecutors when the deal went into gridlock. Prosecutors tracked Choi down and arrested him in March during one of his brief visits to Korea.

Investigations on the suspect revealed he had been swindling numerous other people since 2009, using false business contracts involving the installations of CCTV cameras or streetlamps in Thailand and Myanmar. Local prosecutors are currently searching for more victims but said the probe is progressing slowly because Korea and Cambodia haven’t signed a bilateral treaty on judicial assistance in criminal matters.

BY JANG HYUK-JIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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